Me here, checking in with all of you. How are you? Did you make it through the storm OK? Did your roof stay on and basement stay dry? Do you have power back yet?

This storm made me aware of how lucky I am, and I am very aware that for those without a woodstove or generator, it was downright miserable, if not life-threatening.

Which leads me to my semi-regular rant about power lines.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Now, before I embark upon this particular journey, I want to pause. To all the incredible people out working on the lines to restore power, thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I saw you out there in the cold and the wet, working long hours in miserable conditions – over the holiday, no less. I have no doubt there were places you’d have rather been, but there you were. Diligently doing a difficult, dangerous and uncomfortable job to ensure the rest of us would get our power back. Thank you.

To the folks in positions of – no pun intended here – power, can we please rethink the system?

Yes, yes, I know. I am not a civil engineer and no doubt there are a multitude of variables and mitigating factors about which I know nothing. It’s just that I drive around and I look at all those tall, wobbly poles holding up great, heavy, loopy lines – many of them with massive tree branches above, or even threaded through them – and I can’t help but think the potential for disaster is obvious and pronounced. And it seems born out by what actually happens.


This past storm is a case in point, and hardly an isolated one. Power outages due to downed lines or trees in the mix are a fairly common occurrence here in Maine. And so I find myself thinking, yet again, why are we not doing it differently?

I fantasize about new solar products such as slim roof tiles and window blinds, or windmills in the backyard or front hedge, resulting in a new way of being where each home is made entirely self-sufficient. That seems the ultimate fix, but perhaps not feasible.

The solution which is forever dancing in my brain is to simply bury the power lines.

I know, I say “simply” as if it was easy, and I realize it is not, but looked at in the big picture, it seems better than what we are doing now, no?

Imagine if each roadway currently lined with teetering poles had instead a side aisle where we installed underground power lines, the surface of which would be liftable by crews for easy access maintenance, and which could double as walkways. People could actually go outside their home and get some steps in without worrying about being run over on these crazy, twisty rural roads!

Even in busy towns we could experiment with the “generator” sidewalks that use the impact of footfall to actually generate power. London has already been experimenting with them at the Olympic site, and they have some real promise.

Cost. Yes, inevitably there is the issue of what it will cost to do this work, but again I say, look at the way we are right now. The financial impact of Winter Storm Elliot is still being totaled up, but the wind storm of October 2018 (remember that one?) came in at $69 million dollars in damage – costs passed on to us. Surely, when measured against the existing damages and the impact upon your customers’ lives, there is a way to make the books work.

Aesthetically, a world without power lines overhead would be preferable as well, but surprisingly, I am actually focused on the bottom line here. People’s lives and livelihoods depend upon a steady, reliable power grid, and we endanger workers whenever we have to send them out. Let’s invest in our common future.

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