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Solution to outages

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Such massive outages would not happen if wires were underground (“Patrick to tour storm damage in Gloucester,” Feb. 27). But investor-owned utilities (IOUs) claim that moving wires underground is prohibitively expensive. That is not true if it’s done right. In Europe, many electric distribution lines are underground: In Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, almost 100 percent. In Concord, which has a municipal utility (muni), 40 percent of the network is underground. Concord spends $600,000 per mile to bury wires, but since Concord’s rates are 40 percent lower than NStar’s, that process is effectively free.

With competition from new munis, IOUs will look at underground lines more seriously. If not, new munis will.

- Patrick Mehr, Lexington