As I write this only 10% of Puerto Rico has had power restored...and this a month after the island was hit by a strong hurricane. While some of Puerto Rico’s problems restoring power are unique to its geography and economy, the absolute need to get power back on quickly after a natural emergency is well known. Almost all other relief efforts to save lives depend on power. It is a given in our modern society.
And so the drive to get the lights back on means getting poles back upright, downed lines restrung, generators working again, etc.etc.etc..and quickly. Which overlooks any problems that area had with power lines before the disaster struck---the overwhelming need is to get power restored quickly.
Had the lines been underground far less damage would have been done; far less power would have been lost, and restoration would have been done faster.
But we forget all this in the immediate pressure to restore power.
What is needed is to resurvey what might have occurred had the lines been buried...and IF, as I strongly suspect, things would have been MUCH better with most lines buried, we need to invest in doing that before the next disaster hits.
This is NOT just a problem for Puerto Rico. I can think of at least 3 cases in Lexington---in recent years-- where similar natural events occurred, costing us power, where restoration, at considerable expense, was NOT followed by burying the lines...and that cost all of us power outrages again, and again. Yes, burying lines is more expensive than restoring the traditional above ground poles—for the utility. But what about the overall costs to homeowners and business and government that future outages entailed, when lines aren’t buried after the first disaster? Those costs never seem to be factored in.
I am willing to bet that the total costs of restoring power traditionally in those 3 recent events exceeds the costs of burying lines...but no one seems interested in figuring our whether my “bet” is right or not.
Well, someone should.
We are all “downstream” when power goes out...and we need to be interested in the fastest, best way to get the lights back on, not just quickly but for the long run.
I'm just sayin'...