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Should PEPCO Put Wires Underground?

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Some members of the Montgomery County council have suggested that PEPCO put some of its power lines underground.
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Some members of the Montgomery County council have suggested that PEPCO put some of its power lines underground.

By Matt Bush

In Maryland, Bethesda and Potomac were two of the hardest hit areas after last Sunday's storm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands in Montgomery County.

Bethesda and Potomac have an abundance of trees, especially on private property. Some members of the Montgomery County council have suggested that PEPCO put some wires underground to prevent trees from falling on them.

PEPCO President Thomas Graham says that's not generally feasible. He points to a recent study that showed putting one mile of wire underground would cost PEPCO $6 million.

"We have about 14,000 miles of aerial wire between the primary and secondary in our service territory," says Graham.

But Graham says, putting wires underground in certain spots would make sense.

"It might be selective under-grounding of the primary, not the primary and the secondary. But the primary and that would lower the risk for customers," he says.

But Graham says there is another drawback to putting wires underground. When there is an outage, it would take longer to fix.

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