Monday, November 07, 2011

The Small Benefits Of Density: New York Suburbs Spend Over A Week Without Power

Visiting my mom in NYC, I notice an urban benefit that's common in NY, but actually pretty rare, not stadiums, but buried power lines that make outages extremely unlikely.

Ever since 1888, when a blizzard knocked out the power on Wall Street, the vast bulk of NYC invested in buried power lines, a cost pretty easily offset by the intense level of development in the city.

A recent storm brought home once again the almost third world nature of suburban overhead power lines. Several inches of heavy wet snow, brought down close to 1000 trees in Central Park alone, but by a day or two later, most of the trouble was forgotten and the city lost barely a beat.

Not so in the surrounding area, where in many cases, very similar conditions created an catastrophic loss of power leaving many wealthy and smug suburbanites rushing to book warm cozy, New York hotels to escape days in the cold and dark.

In New Jersey, repair crews recieved physical threats from angry customers. Power is still out after almost ten days for some in Connecticut!

"Connecticut Light & Power, the state's largest utility, announced Sunday night that it would miss its goal of restoring power to 99 percent of its 1.2 million customers by midnight. Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey apologized, saying that power might not be restored to everyone until Wednesday. About 6,000 of the outages were new and unrelated to the snowstorm, he said.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has called the delays unacceptable and said the state is keeping its legal options open in case there are grounds for recourse in the courts once the circumstances are examined."

More than a few are finally seeing how great reliable, underground utilities are. The problem is that at low density levels, there is just no way to offset the massive expense.

Just a thought, but cities looking into attracting residents and businesses might consider doing something New York did in 1888.

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