Once again thousands of homes and businesses in West Virginia have been left in the dark, prompting people to ask whether utilities should be forced to relocate power lines underground to keep them safer.
Logical? Yes. But costly, so they say.
Those who favor direct power-line burial say it's worth the expense, our cities can't afford to be without power for days and weeks on end. If we don't demand underground power, we'll never get it.
Opponents of direct burial argue that there are easier and more cost-effective ways to prevent blackouts from storms.
This current power outage due to a major weather event, isn't the first time and it won't be the last that weather wreaks havoc on our power delivery system. Why? Because every time a storm takes out overhead power, utilities companies always replace the destroyed poles, transformers and power lines in exactly the same places, with exactly the same technologies that were just destroyed by high winds, heavy snows and falling trees.
Utility companies continue to present the same economic analysis year after year, that say relocating power lines underground to make them less vulnerable to damage would be far too expensive for their customers who pay the entire cost of restoration of electric service. However what they fail to consider is the cost to those same customers of lost business, lost property, lost lives from prolonged blackouts after bad storms. The truth is, most of the outages and a lot of misery could be avoided if more power lines had been underground.
We must demand underground power and other climate-proof infrastructure across all of West Virginia. The price to our economic well-being is too high.