One of the questions that is always raised after a major natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy is whether electric utilities like Con Edison should bury their systems underground. And one part of the answer is that such an undertaking is a major expense, said Carlos Torres, vice president for emergency management at Con Edison, at a panel discussion last night on climate change adaptation in New York City.
The cost of moving an overhead system underground would be in the range of $5 million to $6 million per mile, Torres said, and that’s not including the costs to customers for burying the system.
“If we were to take our entire system and underground it, it would be a cost of about $33 billion,” Torres said, which would raise rates for customers.
It is also not without its risks, such as heat and flooding and the increased difficulty in locating problems underground that make it significantly more costly to do repairs.
He added, “We’re going to consider this again and review it again based on our findings from Sandy.”