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NStar needs to act now to put wires underground
August 21, 2009

In response to your Aug. 17 editorial, "Hammered on two fronts," NStar can protect Brewster's aesthetics by transferring its wires underground instead of disfiguring trees.

Placing wires underground is affordable when done right. In Concord, which has a municipal electric utility, or muni, and does not rely on NStar (see, 40 percent of the network is underground; the Concord muni transfers another 1.5 miles of wires underground each year. Other munis also routinely move wires underground to improve aesthetics and service reliability.

The cost to electricity consumers? Effectively zero. The Concord muni, which spends about $600,000 per mile to transfer wires underground, charges 30 percent to 40 percent less than NStar for the same electricity.

Instead of disfiguring trees, NStar needs a long-term undergrounding plan to improve the aesthetics of the communities it serves, and to reduce outages. (When wires are underground, falling tree limbs no longer cause outages.)

Patrick Mehr

The writer is a member of the Lexington Electric Utility Committee.