The time has come to bury the electrical power distribution lines in New Jersey.
More than 2,500,000 customers in New Jersey lost power during the most recent hurricane, Sandy. Many households and businesses were without power for seven or more days.
Power outages are now common occurrences. They happen almost every time a storm hits the state. It happened last year (2011) during tropical storm Irene in August and again during the snow storm in October, 2011.
A great majority of power outages are caused by fallen trees on overhead distribution lines.
We, the undersigned, petition for these existing overhead lines to be installed underground.
The most important benefits are:
1. Drastically reduced power outages.
2. Improved public safety.
3. Improved reliability.
4. Improved aesthetics.
We are fully aware that utility underground conversion programs are costly. We are also aware that every time a prolonged power outage occurs, the general public demands action, with no results.
The proponents of the status quo have already spoken: http://www.northjersey.com/news/state/177204411_Buried_power_lines_in_NJ__Fuggedaboutit.html?page=all
They are telling us once again that underground lines are too expensive.
They are telling us that this work is not "practical".
Predictably, their "Cost/Benefit" analysis does not favor moving the lines underground.
What is the cost/benefit analysis of human lives lost to damaged "live" wires?
What is the cost of our children not being able to safely walk in their neighborhood or go to school?
How practical is it to repair the failing power grid over and over again, at the taxpayer's expense?
How practical is it for businesses to lose revenue because of the unreliable and unsafe electrical power supply?
There are undergrounding programs currently ongoing in a number of California's municipalities, including San Diego, Anaheim, San Francisco, and Auckland. There are utility conversion projects being undertaken in Naples, FL, Conway and Myrtle Beach, SC. And there are undergrounding programs in many parts of the world, including Holland and Germany.
All low and medium-voltage lines in Holland are now underground. In Germany, almost all of these lines are underground. Consequently, the German power grid has outages at an average rate of twenty one minutes per year.
In New Jersey, the rate is measured in days, not minutes. Soon, it will be measured in weeks.
The residents of New Jersey, a state with the third highest median household income in the country, deserve better than that.
In the United States, distribution lines are typically buried in large cities with high population densities. Holland, where all distribution lines are buried, has the population density of 1,259 people per square mile, one of the highest in the world. Germany: 609 people per square mile. The state of New Jersey: 1,189 people per square mile, the highest in the country.
The distribution lines in the state of New Jersey must be buried. They should have been buried years ago. The undergrounding program should start now.
Furthermore, the financial burden should not fall entirely on property owners. State’s funding must be available for this project to run smoothly and efficiently. Federal government funding for infrastructure programs must be pursued by the state government and New Jersey Representatives and Senators in Congress.
Some estimates put the total cost of hurricane Sandy at $60 billion, most of it in lost business due to power outages.
Governor Christie, your leadership during the crisis caused by hurricane Sandy is admirable. Your cooperation with President Obama and willingness to set aside partisan politics only days before the election is appreciated by every resident in New Jersey trying to cope with the aftermath of this disaster.
That same type of leadership is needed to undertake this monumental task. We cannot continue living in the 21st century while still using 19th century infrastructure.
Mr. Christie, bury those lines!