WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The derecho in late June that left more than a million customers powerless in the D.C. area, has left many asking one question:  Why not bury power lines and be done with it?  

The primary answer is cost.

Just how much extra will it cost in the District? No exact figure has been determined, but the number may be  more than $1 billion.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is on a mission to find out.  He has formally put together a committee to look at the power outages and whether it’s worth it to put more power lines underground. Gray says he has appointed members of a task force that will investigate solutions to power outages caused by severe storms.

He’s calling it “Mayor’s Task Force on Power Line Undergrounding.”

In Chevy Chase, an area in D.C. that seems to have power outages more than most, one resident has proposed neighborhoods should decide individually if they are going to pay to have their lines put below the street.

“I understand that I may be better able to pay it than others, so I’m not saying it’s for every neighborhood. Maybe it’s something neighborhoods decide by ANC vote or something like that.”

The mayor says his new task force will gather information to develop plans to reduce the impact of severe weather on the power grid. The feasibility of burying the power lines is at the top of the list of solutions being investigated.

“We’ve had so many outages here in the city,” Gray tells NewsChannel8. “I think people are exasperated, and that includes me as a customer of Pepco.”

Gray announced the new task force will be co-chaired by City Administrator Allen Y. Lew and Pepco CEO Joseph Rigby. The first Task Force on Power Line Undergrounding meeting will be held on Thursday, August 23rd at 1:00 pm. The meeting will be held in Room G-9 of the John A. Wilson Building, located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and is open to the public.

To register to speak at the meeting, please provide your name, your telephone number or email address, and organizational affiliation (if any) to Phyllis Love by telephone at 202.478.9200 or by email at phyllis.love@dc.gov. The time limit for speakers is three (3) minutes. Public speakers are also requested to submit at least two (2) written copies of their testimony at the meeting.


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