By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – For many, it is the second time in eight weeks they have been without power. The cost and inconvenience are wearing on people.

Many are asking the question: is there a better way?

The images are all too familiar: no power, no internet, and spoiled food, all because tree limbs are snapping and ripping down power lines all over the state.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

“I moved here the beginning of this past year, and it’s the first time in my life I have gone so many times without electricity. It has been a new experience,” said one woman.

So, what do we do with these high power lines running along most streets in New England?

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

As another woman put it: “By now you would think they would have figured it out…but we are not so lucky.”

Is the answer putting the power lines underground? That is one what they did in one section of Brookline.

Gov. Patrick was asked about the idea of underground utilities Monday at his press conference at the MEMA emergency bunker in Framingham.

“I love the idea. Apparently though, that is a $1 trillion project across the Commonwealth. And that cost and how to pay for it, no one has answered yet,” said Gov. Patrick.

A number of communities like Brookline have moved in recent years to put utilities underground, like Duxbury, Randolph, Newton and Chelmsford. The problem is they tend to be just small pockets in a community of a much larger population.

Brookline Town Engineer Peter Ditto studied the underground utility issue in depth seven years ago, but ultimately Brookline leaders decided against it.

“Based on the prices at the time, it was anywhere from $45 to $150 million and the time frame was 75 years,” said Ditto.

And there are drawbacks to the plan.

Last winter, the i-Team reported about stray voltage, which happens when salt and rain corrode underground wires. Also, repairing underground power lines, when they do fail, costs a lot more because the worker would be repairing the sidewalk or road as well.

A few years ago in downtown Brookline, a high-voltage underground power line failed. The line was cooled with oil, which caused a serious environmental issue as well.

Comments (13)
  1. luz says:

    obviously Patrick does not live out here in Western MA.. I don’t think he even knows it exisrs! We have many who may see their power on by this Thursday.. that is NOT acceptable

  2. John Belskis says:

    Unless the law dhanged recently, power companies were supposed to bury a small percentage of their plant on an annual basis (I don’t recall the precise number) They have avoided doing so for the exising plant by counting their new bulds towards that numbetr thus seldom getting to the existing plant.

  3. Cathy Driscoll Clark says:

    Concord Light & Electric, a MUNI, aleady DOES bury lines underground!! The state needs to PASS the MUNI CHOICE legislation which will introduce COMPETITION in utilities; this bill is presently in the telecomm committee; tell your reps. & Senatos to PASS this bill. For more info. check out: As a UNTIL ratepayer who went w/o power for TWO WEEKS at CHRISTMAS we know all too well why this legislation is critical. Check out the comments on the petition I created:

  4. William Fregosi says:

    It was reported on CBS Radio News that Connecticut’s major utility is facing a $100 million bill for replacing the lines just this one time. And as of yesterday (Saturday the 5th) 180,000 customers were still without power from the original number of somewhat over 800,000. In the next big storm, all those lines will be back down on the ground. The cost to businesses and residents is staggering. Do the power companies really enjoy this? The population and the economy certainly don’t!

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