About 3 am on Wednesday, January 28, my home was one of 769,000 in Kentucky that lost power due to a powerful ice storm that was eventually declared a natural disaster. Schools were closed for a week, roads were treacherous, and dozens of people died. My family spent the following night in the home of some friends, then four more in a local hotel once we found a kennel for our dogs. The temperature inside my house was in the mid-30s (Fahrenheit) during the daytime. Luckily, the water pipes did not burst during any of the even colder nights.
The power to our street was restored on Super Bowl Sunday, February 1. However, for lack of a tall ladder, three homes -- mine included -- were not connected to power that day. My family watched the Super Bowl with some friends and tried not to think about our plight. Finally, though we feared that an individual home hookup might take several more days, the electricity was restored to my home during the afternoon of February 2.
Unfortunately, many thousands of people didn't have power restored for many days. I can certainly empathize with their plight. Just last September, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, high winds caused my home to lose power for 9 frustrating days. Of course, the temperature was relatively mild then and my family did not have to evacuate the homestead. We had to cook outdoors, refill the ice in our coolers daily, and try to read by candlelight. I listened to baseball games on a hand crank radio.
Count me among those who would like to see Louisville bury its electrical power lines.
[Peter] Fox-Penner is an energy consultant for the Brattle Group, based in Washington, D.C. He says nine out of ten new subdivisions in the U.S. have underground lines, and the rest will get them as the current infrastructure becomes obsolete and is replaced with new technology, which will have to happen if renewable and green energy becomes standard.The recent stimulus package apparently moves the U.S. in this direction. In Louisville, Mayor Jerry Abramson is asking the power company to look into this option, but the company has previously estimated that it would cost about $1 million per mile to bury lines. In Greenville, SC, however, the city is considering a $12.5 million tab to bury 30 miles of line. That's only $417K per mile.
“I think it should be done when the power grid starts to be modernized, as part of that,” he says.
Fox-Penner says a full modernization would cost upwards of 800 billion dollars. President Obama has talked about modernizing the power grid, leaving open the possibility that some of that money might be available from the federal government.
Visit this blog's homepage.