Back-to-back N.S. wind storms have some pushing for underground power lines
With two wind storms over two weeks leading to widespread power outages, there have been increased calls to have power lines put underground.
Nova Scotia Power president and CEO Karen Hutt told CTV News on Friday that the project would be too expensive, but many customers believe it will result in a decrease in outages.
"It’s technically very complicated,” Hutt told CTV News. “It’s very, very expensive. There are a number of different factors that come into play from a cost justification point of view to be a low-cost provide."
According to a statement released Monday by Nova Scotia Power, "Our high-level cost estimate to safely build new lines underground is close to $1 million per kilometre of line, at a cost of approximately $24 billion and the estimate does not include the significant cost and disruption of removing existing poles and lines."
Megan Payn of Eastern Passage, N.S., says crews are still working on cleaning around her home after the Christmas Day storm. The toppled trees are teetering on power and communication lines to her home.
"You can't get in the backyard yet," says Payn. “We ended up having the big tree fall down on top of the wires and it's been a hazard. I have two small boys and neither one of them have been able to get out in the backyard.”
Payn would like to see all lines go underground.
“In the long run it would be worth it,” she says. “As long as we didn't have any situations where it knocked out power again, it would be worth it.”
Underground installation is something considered when new housing developments are built. In Cowie Hill, N.S., the lines are buried and consumers see a difference.
"It’s only once in five years for us,” says Cowie Hill resident Bev Cooke. “But my husband has brothers and sisters (in Eastern Passage) and they lose power a lot and they don't have the buried lines."
Even if power lines go underground, it doesn't mean the system isn't vulnerable to outages. Lines can also take longer to repair because it’s harder to both diagnose and access the problem.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Marie Adsett.