Living without electricity is fun for a while, but it gets old fast, as thousands of Cape residents can attest after last weekend's nor'easter. While some were fortunate to not lose power, many were out for 24, 36, 48 or more hours, growing colder and losing more perishable food by the hour. If you own a generator, you became the most popular household in the neighborhood.
But more and more, communications and even life itself for who depend on oxygen and other medical devices demand reliable, uninterrupted electrical service. In this region, until utility wires are placed underground, that can never be guaranteed.
For years utilities have stonewalled burying wires, claiming it's too expensive. But think about it: How much did it cost Eversource to bring in crews, remove hundreds of trees from downed power lines, repair lines and transformers for both last weekend and the Jan. 4 storm? Loss of power also means customers aren't paying for electricity; no doubt millions in electrical fees were lost too. Losing power also has an economic consequence, especially when businesses are forced to close for days at a time or throw out perishable inventory.
Local officials should begin investigating how to work with utilities to bury lines in the most vulnerable areas – coastal locations and even coastal communities – and perhaps advocate at the county and state level to have that happen across Barnstable County as well as other Massachusetts coastal regions. It's time to take the notion of widespread underground utilities seriously. It may require a large one-time expenditure, but think of the cost savings in the future.