Bury our wires?

Path to perdition

Here at FWIW a spirited discussion of the issue was conducted among readers (those who still had Internet access, anyway) while Sandy raged outside but now Greenwich Time weighs in. It would cost billions to accomplish state wide – we have 17,000 miles of wires overhead, 6,000 more underground and even then, burial wouldn’t solve the problem, as NYC and even Old Greenwich just discovered.

“The issue of resiliency is the real issue,” said Joe McGee, vice president of policy at the Business Council of Fairfield County and chairman of the panel charged to explore this very issue after the 2011 storms.

“There’s no question, undergrounding does prevent wind damage,” McGee said. “But a storm, when there is a flood, exploits the problem with underground utilities… You realize, `Oh my God, salt water damages underground equipment.’”

And the issue is broader than merely ensuring that back country residents can keep their microwaves humming:

It’s more than just wires; the state needs to look at moving other infrastructure, [McGee] said. Power and sewage treatment plants are on the water. Electric and heating systems are in basements that could be flooded, and major highways and the railroad run next to the water.

Greenwich residents might want to be cautious before pushing for what could turn out to be their own burial: the designated CL&P spokesman points out that “it’s a major undertaking at a very high cost… [and] distribution projects are paid for by the communities that benefit them instead of being shared by all ratepayers, like transmission projects”.

I’m not only suggesting that we would be committing to a project whose cost would dwarf that of any of our other dreams we can’t afford – Byram pool, anyone? Eastern Civic Center? Fire houses? Maintainance of existing parks and infrastructure? – but we’d be opening the door to the introduction of a state-wide project because”why should Greenwich have something the rest of us don’t?” And where do you think Hartford would look for the funds to do that? Fudrucker, call your pal Dannel – there’s another opportunity to soak the rich here.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Bury our wires?

  1. Walt

    Dude –
    There is such an easy, cost effective solution to this. Just run the power lines along the side of the road, on the ground, and hold them in place with industrialized staples. Cost effective, can’t fall down, no need to dig, and easy to fix!! PROBLEM SOLVED!!

    And this will eventually cut down on entitlement programs, for the retards who feel compelled to play with the wires. EUREKA!!

    How come CL&P and these dumb fuck politicians can’t think of these cost effective solutions? This is why we are in such bad shape.
    Your Pal,
    Walt

  2. armonk

    Cut the trees, falling trees are the primary source of the problem. If the power companies do not already have the legal ability to cut trees above their easement, governments should give it to them. Same for trees along streets and roads that are on municipal property.

    This is the third major power outage in the last 15 months.
    Time to take more decisive action.

  3. Just the Facts!

    Let people keep their trees if they want. However, if they hit the public’s power lines the owner’s of those trees get to pay their pro-rata share of the cleanup. When CL&P starts charging Greenwich customers for tree hugger’s hubris, it’s time for a wake up call. As for trees on Town properties…any tree within 15′ of our roads that threaten power lines need to be cut immediately….enough said. Any other compromise is a joke. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball on this one. You can’t sell Greenwich as NYC North with an infrastructure that was built in the 1950′s…..

  4. Walt

    Dude –
    Hear me out. I have a new great idea. We are making a documentary!! Think of it, it is the PERFECT vehicle for you. You get to make a flick without having to write a script!! And we all know how much you struggle with the writing part.

    Working title is “Sandy does Greenwich”. You will interview a series of Greenwich residents about how traumatized they were by the hurricane. Not to worry I will write the questions for you. We will listen to them complain about the stores running out of Brie, the nanny not being able to get in and watch the little bastard rug rats, and the spa’s being closed. Whole Foods being closed for two days!! We can interview the President of Greenwich – is that Francis now or is it still that Joe Pesci guy?

    Anyhows, it doesn’t matter. We just want whoever is in power now to explain how traumatizing the hurricane was on all the unwashed masses of Greenwich. Of course we have to interview the GAR Evil Princess. Stop whimpering, you Weasel. She can explain how hurricanes are a good thing for Greenwich real estate values, and explain how real estate is ALWAYS your best investment, and always increases in value.

    Cut to Staten Island. Where is Staten Island Dude? YOU DRIVE!! So after each Greenwich interview, we cut to a Staten Island interview. You get the concept, you loser? For example, after the GAR Evil Princess interview, we cut to Staten Island, show the devastation, and find some 80 year old immigrant who lost EVERYTHING!! House, home, ALL OF IT!! Utter devastation.

    This will work Dude. I am telling you. And I think it will show Greenwich in a good light.
    What do you think?
    Your Pal,
    Walt

    • I think you’ve done it, Walt: a fabulous idea. Really. And I’ll bet people would pay money to see it. If the GAR ever decides to return to work (after shutting down for the past two weeks they’re closed again on Monday for Veterans Day) I’ll call the Princess and see if she’s available.

  5. Doots

    The problem is that everyone keeps thinking of this as an all or nothing solution. Why is it that we can’t bury the lines that are on the main thoroughfares only, like Post Rd, North Street, Sound Beach…. Would cost less than doing the whole town and in the event of an outage you would have fewer outages to begin with leaving CL&P to concentrate on smaller leafier streets?

  6. Guest

    Agree with Doots. We live off of North Street south of the Merritt and the power goes out at the drop of a hat – usually on North Street. North Street is on very high ground up to where we live so there is not a risk of flooding if the wires are buried. I think if they buried the main lines and left the side streets as is, we would have outages less than once a year on our street. I remember very few outages that appeared to be the result of a problem on our street. They are always fixing the corner of North Street and Fairfield. Been disconnected there a thousand times. We see the CL&P trucks there after an outage very often, and this is not in the case of big storms.

  7. Guest

    When one drives up North Street during an outage, the power is usually out north of Fairfield and the houses south of Fairfield on North Street have power, as does the town. Sandy was unusual in the damage it caused. In Sandy, Lake Avenue’s power was severely affected by downed trees, and the wires there should probably be buried. Also relatively high ground. The utility poles on both North Street and Lake Avenue became damaged and dangerous. If they do bury, it would best be electric, cable and telephone, so we get rid of the poles on the main streets.

  8. Guest

    Relative to the comment above much of Sound Beach is likely not a candidate for burial of wires. If you do an internet search it is in an optional evacuation area for hurricanes. In any area where there is a potential of coastal flooding or flooding of a river (the town plan of conservation and development identifies these areas), there may not be a case for burying wires of any type, but this is a question for the experts.

  9. Just the Facts!

    I originally liked the Malkin concept of burying the wires in critical areas of Town. However, that brings a host of new issues. Buried wires overheat in the summer among other problems….so this is not a perfect solution. And many of the roads we have today do not have the easements/shoulders to bury the wires anyway. It is also very expensive for a solution that could legitimately cause more unneeded aggravation….need I mention the ledge issues in Town. Short Term – Cut the trees close to the road is the best, most economical solution. Long Term – Deregulate CT public utilities so they can reinvest in new technologies to upgrade the grid with stronger and more elastic heavy wire technology. And no this is not an all or nothing solution….it’s a solution clear and simple, yet greenies want to politicize it. JTF!

  10. Anonymous

    Why did Greenwich have the money to repave and replace granite curbing in downtown but not the additional cost to bury wires?
    Seems to me that digging a deeper trench for the new curb, laying conduit and moving electric, cable, phone underground would be the expense of the utility companies.
    Every time road work is approved there should be a requirement that the utilities be ‘storm proofed’ proved?

  11. FF

    JTF – CT public utilities are already deregulated