And on the third day, with trees still dangling and temperatures still sweltering and hundreds of thousands still without power, it was time to discuss going underground.
Not descending into basements or caves, mind you, but burying the power lines.
The prolonged recovery from Friday’s destructive storm has rekindled questions about why much of the region’s electric infrastructure remains above ground, exposed to the vagaries of the weather, and whether the necessary money and political wherewithal can be mustered to bury more power lines.
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) was one of several public officials to call Monday for new consideration of “undergrounding,” as the utility industry calls it. “People are fed up with power outages,” he said. “We need a game-changer.”
Changing the game, experts agree, would be somewhere between moderately and astoundingly expensive and might create nearly as many reliability issues as it solves. Yet many jurisdictions nationwide mandate underground infrastructure for new construction. A few others have undertaken ambitious efforts to bury existing overhead lines.