Monday, February 17, 2014

Let's Bury Power Lines. No Let's Don't.

After the December ice storm in Richardson, when whole neighborhoods were without power for hours or even days, one lonely person on Facebook repeatedly posted a status update along the lines of "Let's bury our power lines." He was quickly dismissed with answers along the lines of "It's too expensive."

Well, now that it's the southeast and east coast who are dealing with an ice storm, the question is resurfacing there. After the jump, the pros and cons.

David Frum argues why we should bury our power lines. It's not as expensive as some claim. Other countries can afford it. The benefits are worth more than the cost. With the cost of borrowing at historically low levels, now is the time to invest in infrastructure. The jobs would help, too.

Theodore Kury argues that burying power lines is not always the answer. The risk of damage from ice and wind is replaced by the risk of damage from flooding. Repairs take longer. Getting cooperation among utilities, regulators, governments and neighborhoods is hard. And, oh yeah. It's expensive.

Just like how that "bury the power lines" Richardson resident went silent a few days after the Richardson ice storm was history, so it is everywhere. What's the old saying? Everyone complains about the weather, but no one wants to spend money when the sun is shining. Close enough.

Everyone except me. If anyone on the city council cares to champion new research into burying more of our power lines than we do today, I'll be with you. Really, doesn't this impact more Richardson residents than, say, worrying about whether someone might be enjoying hookah on some restaurant patio somewhere in Richardson? We spend time debating that. Why not spend time brainstorming affordable ways to keep the lights and heat on?

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