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Is There a Way to Prevent Power Outages? [AUDIO]

FULL COVERAGE: NJ Copes After Sandy

One week after Hurricane Sandy battered the Garden state, several hundred thousand people still don’t have their power back.

Downed Power LinesMany are wondering why the major utility companies don’t bury the lines underground, especially because Jersey has had several major storms over the past few years that have knocked millions off-line.

John Latka, the Vice President of Electric Operations for PSE&G says “burying lines underground is very expensive – costing 10 times more than above ground lines, but also – and if you think of this storm versus almost any of the hurricanes, you had severe flooding – so whether we buried the lines underground or not, the stations would have still been flooded…even when you bury stuff underground, there’s still overhead conductors in the air at some point – everything is not underground – that would mean the entire state would have to be buried underground.”

Power Outages:  Get the Latest Estimates

Chris Eck, a spokesman for JCP&L, points out in addition to the expense “there are places in New Jersey where we simply couldn’t do it – where there’s sand, there’s rock, where we simply could not bury lines…and even when lines are underground, parts of our system do have to be above ground – I don’t know that we can bury a sub-station, for instance.”

He adds “the main issue is that the expense of doing so would be very high, and …it’s very unlikely that customers would want to pay the full price tag to bury all of the infrastructure.”

The power companies say some customers probably won’t get their electricity back until the end of the week.

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