Can we afford to do it? Can we afford not to?
Hurricane Ida plunged more than 1 million customers on the Gulf Coast into darkness, and then knocked out power to another 200,000 in the Northeast Wednesday night. The chief culprit, especially as the storm first came ashore, was the wind — blowing trees, roofs, signs and assorted other debris into the transmission lines, and, in Bridge City, La., knocking down a major utility tower.
Heavy rain on already saturated ground also caused utility poles to sag, automatically shutting down the lines they carry.
A way to avoid that does exist: burying cables underground. Electric power in Manhattan — where the lights stayed on despite Ida’s floods — has been channeled underground for years, as it has in other downtown areas across the country. Germany and the Netherlands are moving to put all their lines below the surface.[…]
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