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Sunday, July 01, 2012

How about a timely infrastructure project with wide benefits and useful?


Mythopoeia of undergrounding wires

As the saying goes, each is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Yet when it comes to putting electric wires underground, “undergrounding,” in industry parlance, the facts are difficult to pin down.
At a Greenwich public hearing last year, representatives from CL&P asserted that it would cost $3.3 million per mile to underground electric wires in Greenwich. I followed up with CL&P engineer John Siclari who stated that the $3.3 million figure is based on a “blended average” of estimates. Tom Dorsey, CL&P manager for government relations, admitted that the figure is not based on an estimate for Greenwich, or for Connecticut, but comes from estimates in other states. Dorsey pointed to a 2009 study by the utilities industry-funded Edison Electric Institute which put the cost of undergrounding overhead wires at a maximum of $2.1 million per mile. Dorsey contends that undergrounding in Greenwich could cost more due to the town’s being “filled with rock ledge.” Yet CL&P has yet to perform an estimate for Greenwich or this region.
Is undergrounding prohibitively expensive? Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel report says “no.” The panel found that, “the cost of undergrounding cables in many areas... is not drastically different from that of above-ground utilities,” and recommended that “undergrounding be immediately studied by the DEEP in the areas discussed by the panel and the utilities.” The Witt Associates study also concluded that Connecticut should go forward with undergrounding, and further concluded that undergrounding substantially protects electric lines from common damage, including from severe storms. But the EEI study described that as an “urban myth.” Who’s right?
Panel member Joe McGee stated that in the last 20 years, technology advancements have largely solved the problems of damage to undergrounded wires from moisture and other elements. Regarding the cost of undergrounding, CL&P’s Dorsey wrote that, “the cost is something that any community has to consider given all the other needs that must be faced.” But McGee disputes the notion that the community must pay every penny for undergrounding. The Two Storm Panel asserted that the cost “should be shared between ratepayers and CL&P parent company Northeast Utilities’ shareholders.” NU earns a return on equity of nearly 11%. That is substantial, given that inflation is barely 2%.
McGee also points out that undergrounding substantially lowers the life-cycle cost of the electric wires, and that savings from substantially lower maintenance costs could be passed on to ratepayers.
Undergrounding is not foreign to New England. Concord, Massachusetts’ municipality-owned utility is in the process of undergrounding all of its electric wires at a cost it says is just $600,000 per mile. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick suggested that undergrounding could help prevent future outages. NStar, however, gave an estimate of $1 trillion for undergrounding all the state’s overhead wires, which Massachusetts Alliance for Electric Choice’s Patrick Mehr called inflated by more than 10 times. NStar later backed down, saying the figure “was not a formal estimate.”
The truth about undergrounding is that it is likely to cost far less than the utilities are telling us, it will reduce outages, and the utilities will fight it every step of the way.

Sean Goldrick is a Democratic member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own. He may be reached atsbgoldrick@gmail.com.

41 comments:

  1. Drudge leads with reports of millions without power. Violent thunderstorms, wild fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, snow, auto accidents and fallen trees take their toll, time and time again on overhead utility wires.

    This would be a tremendous opportunity to create wealth, value and jobs. At todays’s interest rates it could be financed with a very modest distribution fee and would benefit every community in every state.

    What do you think?

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  2. Tax free utility bonds, supported by modest user fees would be a tremendous longterm investment opportunity for the conservative investor.

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  3. Let the social security trust funds invest in them.

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  4. So, it would cost $100 Billion for connecticut, alone. They'd never come close to "saving" that much.

    First things first, make sure that you're going to have "affordable" electricity to send through those lines, whether they be above, or below, ground. Connecticut needs to invest, first, in Offshore Wind, and Solar.

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  5. H2O reuse and recycling systems would be a good investment.

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  6. They don’t have to save $100 billion. Using 3% tax exempt bonds, they have to save $3 billion. I would think that power outages cause Connecticut an annual $1.5 billion in economic damage. If Connecticut were to spend $10B annually for ten years, The tax revenues on the economic growth would make a further addition to the economy.

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  7. You have to pay those bonds off, eventually. It won't compute.

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  8. They have a lot of "biomass" in Ct. I'd say a local cellulosic biofuel project would pay dividends (esp. in light of the fact that they have higher than average gasoline prices.)

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  9. Dad put the first underground in a development here. Wasn't any big thing about cost, but it sure saved a beautiful view of the mountains. And it is standard operating procedure here now.

    At WSU, Schweitzer Engineering Labs makes components sold all over the world that isolates power outages in cities, so only a block goes down, not a whole district or more.

    b

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    1. We had a lightning storm all around last night you wouldn't believe. From the Blues/Wallowas over to the Bitteroots, and all on the prairies between. Beautiful to watch.

      b

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  10. Who would possibly have guessed this? --

    http://www.humanevents.com/2012/06/30/wsj-chief-economist-75-of-obamacare-costs-will-fall-on-backs-of-those-making-less-than-120k-a-year/

    b

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  11. You need 1,400 Watts of Capacity per capita. 7 kilowatts of solar capacity (mostly rooftop) per person w/some storage. Call it $30,000.00/per capita.

    Hell, for that $100B you could Solarize the whole state, residential, and business/commercial/factory, and never have to worry about electric bills, or downed/drowned powerlines, again.

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  12. The Republicans' Republicans: Kansas passed a tax cut for all but those making less than $11,000.00/yr. Their Taxes Went UP!!!

    honest

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    Replies
    1. Which means they are paying taxes for the first time? Or their rates raised a little to bring them in line with that which others are paying?

      b

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  13. .

    And then, at times, you ask yourself, "Who really gives a shit?"


    Voyager Prepares to Leave Solar System

    On Valentine's Day the cameras on Voyager One were pointed back towards the sun creating the family portrait of our solar system. Earth appeared as a small "pale blue dot" taking up just a single pixel. Dr Sagan later said: "That's home. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot."

    To Infinity and Beyond

    .

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    1. I saw that in the Independent. An amazing story.

      Delete
  14. .

    The 'who gives a shit' comment obviously wasn't directed at the epic flight of Voyager.

    .

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  15. .

    Like Bob, I kind of like Charlie Rangel for some reason.

    That being said, the guy is a crook and shouldn't be in Congress. He also isn't looking very good these days. The guy should retire of be voted out.

    Rangel's Primary Race Takes a Weird Turn

    .

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    1. On Thursday afternoon, two days after the election, Rangel was seen walking into a Democratic caucus meeting with Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the same Congressional Black Caucus that Rangel co-founded.

      “All hail the king!” Conyers said of Rangel.


      By the 'crook criteria' they should nearly all be outta there. And Jesse Jackson Jr. would be in prison, along with Obama. And nine tenths of the white delegation. But 'isn't looking very good these day?'

      That really hurts. Doesn't he get a few gimme points, at 82?

      Entire precincts are missing......o well, what's a precinct or two, here and there?

      b

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    2. Jeez, I mean really, that was a low blow to Charlie.

      With an age adjustment allowance, he looks better than Brigitte Bardot.

      b

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  16. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/01/the-1934-dinner-party-that-may-have-helped-save-obamacare.html

    This is interesting and worth a read. The taxing power and FDR.

    b

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  17. No death fatwa for Mormon apostates --

    Asked about the resignations, a church spokesman said the church loves and respects each member.

    "People make their own decisions about the direction they will follow in life," spokesman Michael Purdy said in an email. "While there are very few who take this action, it is sad to see someone choose to leave. We wish them well."


    This is civilized behavior. No death penalty for leaving, just a wish you well.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/01/us-usa-utah-mormons-idUSBRE86000N20120701

    Participants from Utah, Arizona, Idaho and elsewhere gathered in a public park to sign a "Declaration of Independence from Mormonism."

    He said he felt relief after his decision.

    "The monkey's off the back ... I don't feel like I have to explain myself or the positions of the church anymore."


    b

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    1. And yet, come to think of it, they are throwing off a perfectly excellent set of metaphors wrapped in ungainly literal ribbons.

      Always a problem, and not just for them.

      b

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  18. In late 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been in office more than a year and decided to move forward on what would become his greatest domestic achievement: Social Security. He assigned his secretary of labor, Frances Perkins, the first woman ever to serve in the Cabinet, to lead the way on designing the program.








    But Perkins was worried. The Supreme Court was moving toward a narrow interpretation of the Commerce Clause that would invalidate many of the great achievements of the New Deal. Soon that would include the National Recovery Act, the capstone of FDR’s famous First Hundred Days in 1933.


    (It would be another four years before Justice Owen Roberts—no relation—would famously switch sides and the Court would begin reversing itself, partly in response to FDR’s 1937 “court packing” scheme.)


    Perkins went to dinner at the home of someone lost to history and recalls in her memoirs that she bumped into Justice Harlan Fiske Stone there.


    When Perkins expressed worry about whether an old-age and survivors insurance program would pass constitutional muster, Stone, a Republican appointee to the court and future chief justice, replied: “The taxing power of the federal government, my dear; the taxing power is sufficient for everything you want and need.”


    Stone’s point was that if Social Security or anything else Perkins might cook up was financed by a tax, it was permissible under the Constitution, especially since the original taxing power had been bolstered by the 1913 adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment, which legalized a federal income tax.

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  19. Only 37% of locals say they are proud of having become Chinese citizens, according to the University of Hong Kong, the lowest figure since 2001.

    Hong Kong has benefited greatly from its relationship with China, serving as a trade and finance hub for the country. A raft of new policies to further that connection were announced as part of Mr. Hu's visit.

    Hong Kong's financial sector has been boosted by Beijing's decision to use the city as the launching pad for the internationalization of its currency.

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  20. Kennedy was also an ardent free-trader, which also would make him an outcast among today’s liberals, who mainly favor protectionism and resist free trade. He lowered tariffs on a number of products and sponsored a new round of international trade talks aimed at lowering trade barriers around the globe.

    So there are four supposed heroes of the Democratic party who would have “a hard time” (as Jeb Bush said of Reagan) gaining the Democratic nomination today, but somehow it is the Republicans, enjoying their highest watermark in 80 years in terms of the number of elected officials on all levels, who are said to have a problem with being “out of the mainstream.”

    Isn’t this what psychologists call “projection”?

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  21. Who pays for ObamaCare?
    (I mean just in dollars)

    http://keithhennessey.com/2012/06/28/uninsured-tax/

    All the facts and figures you need.

    b

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  22. A democratic candidate only Rufus could love -

    http://www.redstate.com/absentee/2012/06/30/arkansas-democrat-puts-on-a-weird-show/

    b

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  23. I have been shocked recently to discover how regularly female university students have their drinks spiked so they can then be raped. Sex is freely available but what these men want is humiliation and savage domination.

    Fifty Shades of Grey reinforces those sexual dynamics, and gives the message that even educated women can only be fulfilled if entrapped and tortured by rich and powerful men – that abused victims ask for it and love their abusers.

    Will all the mumsy fans of the book want their daughters to learn that? I've thrown my copy on to the pile of other trash in the garden.


    Submissive

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  24. Author's Note: In light of Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate on the basis of Congress’s taxing power rather than the Commerce Clause, a slightly modified reprise of this November 27, 2009, column seems appropriate. Note the part about the Supreme Court’s long-standing position that Congress may regulate conduct through the tax system.

    Ruth Marcus, Washington Post op-ed writer, tried to make a constitutional case for the individual health insurance mandate that Congress will surely pass before the year is over. She offered two grounds, the Commerce Clause, which is specified in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill, and the taxing power.

    On the first she writes:

    Spending on health care consumes 16 percent–and growing–of the gross domestic product. There is hardly an individual activity with greater effect on commerce than the consumption of health care.

    ...

    I won’t repeat what I wrote previously about this strained argument. I don’t agree with the constitutionalists who insist that the Commerce Clause was meant to be a narrow power intended only to create a free-trade zone among the states.

    ...

    Even Marcus seems to sense the stretch:

    Granted, there is a difference between regulating an activity that an individual chooses to engage in and requiring an individual to purchase a good or service.


    The Power

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  25. "The problem is, wind blows in remote places," said Toshio Hori, president of Green Power Investment Corp., a developer of wind-power projects and funds. The best wind-power locations are typically far from the existing electricity grid, in the northern areas of the country or atop mountains.

    ...

    Green Power Investment, which has top-flight investors including Softbank Corp. and Mitsubishi Corp., 8058.TO +1.50% says it has a 48-megawatt wind-power project ready to proceed in Shimane, western Japan, but is struggling for financing. "Banks want to see cash flow," Mr. Hori said.

    "But to show cash flow, you have to have the money to build the wind farm."

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    1. In America we don't need no stinkin' cash flow. We got money to blow from the stimulus flow.

      b

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  26. Malvern Hill was the last of what came to be known as the “Seven Days Battles,” a running series of fights that resulted in casualties to both sides of 36,059 killed, wounded, and missing. More than had been lost a couple of months earlier at Shiloh, a battle whose casualties matched those of the entire Revolutionary War and put both sides in the Civil War on notice.

    ...

    General George McClellan liked to think of himself as a kind of American Napoleon, and in at least one regard there was a similarity. Both men were short.

    ...

    By “failing to win,” he had made inevitable many other battles, to include Antietam, where he also failed. One feels a sense of profound sadness when visiting any of the Civil War battlefields, but there is something different about the patchwork of small sites and solitary plaques that mark and commemorate the Seven Days.

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  27. Good news will be coming out of Mexico!

    PRI is both institutional and revolutionary at the same time. Amazing.

    Mark1971 on July 1, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Huh. So R3volutionary got thru the nanny? (Didn’t wanna risk it myself…)

    Akzed on July 1, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    I live in San Diego and one of the sports stations here broadcasts out of Mexico so we hear Mexican political commercials all day. They’re… unreal. Such a different world from the US. Talking about not trading your vote for a goat and a bag of flour, or how the government can make you safe from getting killed by drug lords.

    MikeknaJ on July 1, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    The PRI was founded in 1929 as the National Revolutionary Party (Partido Nacional Revolucionario–PNR).

    Think of it as the Permanent Revolutionary Party.

    Akzed on July 1, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    But it looks like they may get the chance to prove it starting tonight if Nieto pulls out a win.

    Who is Nieto? Do you mean Peña Nieto (sometimes shortened to Peña in English)?

    Anyway, a win by Peña Nieto would be better than a win by far-far-left López Obrador. A win by Vázquez Mota would be far better than a win by either.

    That being said, Peña Nieto will prevail.

    steebo77 on July 1, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Well, Nieto ran an Obama-esque campaign here in Mexico. You saw nothing but commercials about him on TV, and saw his face everywhere…on the sides of buildings, on buses, etc. Pena avoided as many debates as he could and relies on his good looks and movie actress wife (even though it is rumored that he had his ex-wife murdered). He’s also a closet homosexual and completely corrupt.

    His campaign slogan was “This is my promise and you know that I will fulfill it” and “Mexico is going to change”. (Sound familiar?).

    But the good news is that there are many, many Mexicans who hate PRI and they demonstrate loudly when they can. PRI was responsible for the peso crisis in the 90s that completely wiped out many people’s savings. Pena is close friends to Salinas, who was the PRI president during that time.

    Pena will just be the figurehead for the party, much like Obama in the US. The real power brokers are the party establishment, a group of ex officials as well as wealthy business leaders.

    Rambotito on July 1, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Sexist or not PAN was stupid nominating a woman in a country where people’s chief concern is being protected. Nieto’s only real competition is a very leftist former mayor of Mexico city. This result is a surprise to no one.

    Rocks on July 1, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    I’d venture to say it matters not which label is attached to the turds floating at the top of the cesspool that is the Mexican government. They are all pretty much the same and will remain that way until someone eventually pumps the septic tank, and that won’t happen in our lifetimes.

    Tim Zank on July 1, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    But it has bounced back, helped by the economic malaise and a tide of lawlessness that have plagued Mexico under the conservative National Action Party, or PAN…

    Boy, does that sound familiar. And close to home.

    a capella on July 1, 2012 at 6:55 PM



    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/07/01/just-super-pri-making-a-comeback-in-mexico/

    b

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    1. comments continued...


      Coincides with Obama and the Dems – two corrupt thug parties only separated by a border.

      kevinkristy on July 1, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      What happened? Are all the Zapatistas in the US Congress?

      trubble on July 1, 2012 at 6:57 PM

      Rambotito on July 1, 2012 at 6:44 PM

      Wouldn’t AMLO be closer to Obama than EPN?

      Don’t know much about EPN, cept I’ve heard he’s as dumb as a box of rocks.

      El_Terrible on July 1, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      It does not matter who is elected in Mexico. Mexico is a failed state. The narco gangs run the country.

      mchristian on July 1, 2012 at 7:02 PM

      I’m more concerned about how Mexican citizens will vote in the U.S. presidential election.

      Pork-Chop on July 1, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      I anticipate this will increase the number of illegal aliens undocumented migrants crossing the border into the U.S. And, PRI, like PAN, will be wise enough to encourage its least educated, least productive citizens into going to the U.S.

      bw222 on July 1, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      The PRI’s history is a fairly epic tale which could have come straight out of a Godfather movie script. Their amazing ability to win elections with more than 70% of the vote for decade after decade was truly spectacular, what with the 141% turnout they could usually manage.

      So they are like the Chicago thugs who won in 2008 ?

      burrata on July 1, 2012 at 7:33 PM

      I’d venture to say it matters not which label is attached to the turds floating at the top of the cesspool that is the Mexican government. They are all pretty much the same and will remain that way until someone eventually pumps the septic tank, and that won’t happen in our lifetimes.

      Tim Zank on July 1, 2012 at 6:46 PM

      Honestly Mexico could use a few million American born Mexicans to migrate there. That or shutting the border and stop being a pressure release valve for Mexico…

      Theworldisnotenough on July 1, 2012 at 7:33 PM


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    2. I’m trying to think of a viable way to clean up Mexico.
      At the moment, all I got is “Theocracy”.
      Which is really depressing for an atheist.

      Count to 10 on July 1, 2012 at 9:48 PM


      :(

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  28. But many human rights groups say the next month still represents the best chance in decades to make a palpable impact on the global weapon trade.

    "Despite the incredible damage and number of deaths and human rights violations it causes, there are more effective controls on the trade in bananas than on the global arms trade," says Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK. "As the UK delegation meet with other governments at the United Nations on Monday, we call on them to ensure there's no compromise on this key principle: no weapons should be transferred to governments and people where there is a substantial risk they may be used to commit human rights violations.

    Anything less would render this treaty woefully inadequate."

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  29. Forest fire damage in Colorado -

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/06/29/article-2165620-13D6CB4F000005DC-895_964x575.jpg

    b

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  30. n what is arguably a modern low point in political discourse, President Obama's re-election campaign is exhorting supporters to sacrifice birthday, wedding, graduation, and other personal gifts to the greater cause of...President Obama's re-election. No kidding:

    Got a special milestone or event coming up?

    Instead of another gift card you’ll forget to use, ask your friends and family for something that will go a little further: a donation to Obama for America.

    ...

    Here are five great ideas of gifts to send Barack Obama in lieu of cash.

    All are ripped from the pages of the world's most ubiquitous catalog from which no known or observed purchase have ever been made, a.k.a. SkyMall (clogging airline seat pockets since 1990).

    1. Skyrest Travel Pillow

    As the 2012 Election season gets fully underway in the summer months, POTUS will be spending even more time than usual on airplanes, buses, low-speed trains, and stagecoaches as he tours the cities, towns and hamlets of this sweet land of liberty to meet and greet voters.


    In Lieu Of Cash

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  31. Here's the real deal, Neill, the PRI says to the 5 families cartel genteel, hold down the violence, we won't come for you, the violence is killing tourism, export product to the Gringos, lay off the killing, and we'll all be fine.

    b

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