It’s time to seriously consider underground wires

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To the Editor:
Would that someone with the necessary information (and a sharp pencil) might tally the true costs of constant tree trimming, then recovering the Island’s electrical system after one of our wicked nor’easters. Surely the fully accounted costs would support the case for undergrounding many of our electric utility lines. A major industry has developed around the maintenance and repair of our overhead electrical system, a very dated technology when you really think about it. Undergrounding often is dismissed as “prohibitively expensive” only because the true cost of maintaining and repairing overhead wires hasn’t been fully considered. Consider too the countless direct and indirect costs that fall on our businesses, schools, towns, and households with every power outage. All this plus the added risks and hardships of so many when our power lines come down in winter.
Eversource reported that it had “thousands” of storm recovery crews working throughout its service area last week, many on the Island. Of course, these enormous tree maintenance and power line repair costs must be recovered in our utility rates. How much better it would be to use those funds for the long-term financing necessary to make the system more resilient? As we prepare for the ever more severe and frequent storms from climate change, let’s take the long view and seriously consider a better way than stringing our wires through the trees.

Doug West
Chilmark