Letter: Move It All Underground

It has become painfully obvious in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias that the infrastructure in Lakewood (and New Jersey in general) simply isn’t up to par. Yesterday, TLS posted a beautiful letter from a reader who said that when she lived in Minnesota, she rarely, if ever, lost power, even when they were experiencing massive blizzards (or flurries, as she called them).

I don’t know anything about Minnesota – I’ve never even been there. I have no idea how the utility companies work there or if there’s some advantage the power companies have there that allow them to keep the power running through major snowstorms. I can’t really pass judgement on a comparison between New Jersey and Minnesota utility companies. But I do know how our local power companies can create for themselves an advantage that will keep our electricity running through almost anything: put everything underground.

Moving electric wires underground has become more popular in recent years, as technological advances and decreased costs made it cheaper and easier to do. There are many areas across the US that now rely exclusively on underground power lines. It’s time JCP&L took the initiative to do the same.

Yes, it’ll be costly. Our electricity prices will, without a doubt, go up. It will cost them many millions of dollars to move the wires underground. But think of it this way: would you not be willing to pay slightly more in the next few years to guarantee that your electric won’t go out every time the wind blows?

It’s not okay for us to sit back and allow the power companies to take a week to restore power to Lakewood homes. Perhaps it’s not their fault – they probably are truly overloaded with the extent of these outages. But that is the very reason why they must take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen anymore.

Moving our electric wires is a necessary, vital expense, in my opinion. With the amount of damage caused by downed trees in thunderstorms, snowstorms, and tropical storms, I believe we will save money in the long run by moving wires underground. And that will come with the added benefit of not having day-long blackouts every time the trees rustle in the breeze.

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There are 17 Comments to "Letter: Move It All Underground"

  • YesKo says:

    Doesn’t help… Westgate has under ground & we get blackouts by almost every rain…. bec at some point it hits wires that is not underground….

  • not really says:

    people obviously are not willing to “pay slightly more in the next few years to guarantee that your electric won’t go out every time the wind blows” – otherwise everyone would have a generator and never have an issue with power outages

  • Shooo! says:

    While many of us are suffering without power and want to blame anyone and everyone,EVERYONE SHOULD CALM DOWN!!
    If corona taught us anything it’s that we are not in control.
    Stop trying to control every aspect of your life, it’s an exercise in futility

  • Anon says:

    While I agree that a blackout is something nobody likes, I and I’m sure many others are not willing to shell out extra money to have the utilities moved underground.

    Underground utilities have their own issues such as leaks or harder to detect issues.

    There are also issues with getting permission to relocate from people whose property the wires will be buried under. Not every house has an easement for utilities.

    Our local utility company does their best to maintain the current infrastructure. They are constantly trimming trees and inspecting wires and poles.

    I’d like to thank JCP&L for going above and beyond in the recovery in this storm.

  • Just Sayin says:

    That will work great until they flood and corode. Some areas with high water table are especially at risk of this.

    Snow storms are not comparable. When was the last time we lost power from snow? When it snows the trees are bare and don’t catch wind.

  • FrumStatistician says:

    It is not as simple as you make it sound.

    Yes, laying undeground lines are cheaper than they once were but they still cost about 10x what above ground lines cost. In a very densely populated urban area it can be worth it (more paying customers are served by each line so it can be profitable to install underground lines) which is why almost all of Manhattan and a few parts of Brooklyn and Queens have underground power lines, but in less densely populated areas of NYC, let alone much lower density places like Lakewood it makes more financial sense for the utilities to put in above ground lines and fix them when they go down.

    Now, utilities in NJ, are known for doing poor quality work when installing and repairing lines and this could be fixed if politicians actually bothered to pressure the utilities to do better quality work. I remember after Sandy when crews from other utility companies from out of state came in to do repairs and the quality of the repairs was much better – some places that used to have power go out after every storm had no outages for a few years afterward. but underground lines are not a feasible solution at the current time.

    • FrumStatistician says:

      Just to clarify what I wrote, the 10x cost number is if you need to tear up existing streets, private property etc. It does make sense to do them underground if you are building an entirely new development from scratch which is why the power lines within most of the developments in Lakewood are underground, but as a YesKo pointed out above, the lines into those developments and along major streets like Rt 9 are above ground and it is not cost effective to move them underground.

  • roeh says:

    putting infrastructure underground costs a fortune and what do you think happens to underground wires that get inundated with salt water from melting snow.

  • sensible middle ground says:

    how about running the final line from street to house underground and possibly some complexes/side streets or small mid lines underground not everything

  • JustWondering says:

    Most of the Midwest does not have utilities underground and does not have these problems.

    And the weather there is not just snowier, but often more windy as well.

    The utilities here do not do enough preventive maintenance. Drive down any road and look at how many poles look like they are ready to topple over, and that is just what you can see with your bear eyes.

    I am guessing that those who have been downplaying this have not spent the last 3 days trying to run a business off of a cell phone

  • Hello? says:

    What about the fact that the ground in Lakewood is dug up all the time to build another bunch of houses? So they will shut your electricity every time wires need to be moved? Sure. Great idea!! What about just having serious maintenance and pruning of trees that are surrounding electric wires??

  • Mutty says:

    Most of NYC is underground which is No-Angel: occasional explosions, manholes are constantly smoking from burning wires, they don’t rip in a storm but deteriorate underground more quickly of which they are very difficult and costly to replace, Con Edison is constantly ripping open streets in NYC.
    The current electrical system is from 1960 & Cable lines are from 1980.
    It’s about time to get every home & business off of the electrical system.
    Solar panels need to become better and less expensive, or every home and business should have their own Windmill(s).
    Cable wiring was supposed to end by now & go 5G wireless , but red tape is preventing Verizon & AT&T from putting up 5G towers.

  • Yechiel says:


    Your comment is a bit ridiculous considering that it’s our desire to control things that have given us the life we have now….mostly devoid of the illnesses and diseases that had people living on average to 45 just 150 years ago. Our “trying to control” also gave us amazing technology and made them safer and safer for us to use….

  • Amil Zola says:

    First off the ‘smoke’ you see coming out of manholes in NYC is actually steam, not from burning wires.

    Underground utilities do little to maintain power to residences if substations fail.

  • Someone who grew from Covid-19 says:

    Having “control” is just a mirage.
    Having “advanced technology” is just a front.

    EVERYTHING is from Hashem.

    HE has ALL the control.

    HE has ALL the power.

    HE lets you THINK you’re in charge.

    Thinking “kocho b’otzem yadi” (the strength is in my hands is anti Torah.

    When you let go & let G-D
    YOU will have peace.

    CORONA was from HIM

    POWER OUTAGES are from HIM

    HE is waiting for YOU to believe in HIM
    (& not just believe that He exists but to believe that He