Are underground lines the answer for preventing power outages?

Joe Lake has owned property on Glen Lake in Leelanau County for decades, but he'll never forget the wrath of the blizzard that hit last March.

There were thousands of residents without power. We were out for seven days here, Lake said.

Again in December, just before the holiday, Mother Nature struck Leelanau County once again.

Well, just before Christmas, same kind of system|heavy, wet snow and high winds snapped the tops of trees and they came down through the power lines, Lake recalled.

Lake decided to contact 7&4 News, asking why power companies don't place more power lines underground.

We took his idea to Consumers Energy, a company with more than 1.6 million customers in the state of Michigan.

Area manager Bob Gluszewski cited two reasons why power companies don't always go underground:

1. It is more expensive

2. It takes longer to restore power to underground lines.

With overhead systems, we can see it if it is a broken line or if it is a broken cross-arm on the pole or whatever...if it TMs underground, again, you have to bring in specialized equipment, and it takes a while to find that. Then once you find the issue it takes much longer to fix, Gluszewski said.

The vast majority of Consumers' power lines are above ground, though larger subdivisions, by state law, are required to have underground lines.

Townships and other local government bodies can request to move lines underground but that costs money.

They would be responsible for paying the additional costs. Not the customers in that area but the governing body that makes the request, said Gluszewski.

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