We live in the Wedgewood subdivision of Durham, a.k.a. ‘Tree-mageddon’ during this last storm.
It’s 12:01pm on Tuesday, March 2nd, and we still don’t have power restored. We’re doing OK, we’re on a generator, and thankfully the temperatures have been above freezing so there hasn’t been much concern for us. The problem is, we’re used to this — we know that, on average, we’ll have a multi-day outage each year. It was explained to us before we moved here, but we didn’t believe it. After 5 years, not only do we believe it but we’re pros at dealing with it.
This leads me to ask the question: what would it take to recoup the cost of burying all these power lines underground in this and other high-impact neighborhoods?
I’m sure from PSNH’s standpoint the answer is, “oh, it’s cheaper to repair downed lines 100 times than it is to bury them once.” And I’m sure that’s true. But that’s not even the beginning of the total cost here.
Let’s list some of the costs in addition to those incurred by PSNH’s repair crews:
Town infrastructure costs, including temporary shelters for residents, management time coordinating with utilities, additional emergency workers, and overtime work for local crews and staff.
Personal costs, including fuel for generators, lost groceries, frozen/burst heat pipes, hotel rooms, meals out, and lost productivity at work.
Health risks, including loose (and potentially live) wires on the street, toxic leakage from downed transformers, and carbon monoxide poisoning from generators (the fire department brought a neighborhood woman to the hospital just yesterday).
I, for one, would love to see a cost analysis here, and if it means adding a surcharge to the local residents, please propose that and let’s make the decision together. Until we do, I *know* that each year we’ll be without power for several days and yet again incurring all of these expenses and exposing ourselves and the town to all these risks.
It seems silly not to at least consider doing this.