We live in a place where there are lots trees and lots of big storms. Put the two together, and you have a recipe for power outages. It is time to take more aggressive actions to safeguard our power supply.
Pacific County Public Utility District No. 2 already requires those obtaining new power hook-ups to bury their supply lines. This makes sense for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that underground lines are safe from storm damage. There also is much to be said for the aesthetic advantages of placing cables underground rather than marring views.
Our PUD is a public entity and thus must of course operate within the fiscal constraints imposed by being located in a remote rural area. Nevertheless, it routinely manages over the years to make major capital expenditures on a wide variety of items. Currently, for example, $4.3 million in capital improvements are budgeted, of which one-third has been spent. Another $5.1 million is on the books for transmission lines, plus $1 million for another new substation. Little of these amounts have been actually spent thus far.
All county officials are in agreement that the vast bulk of development within Pacific County occurs here on our roughly 50-square-mile Peninsula. And yet old-fashioned political considerations often appear to skew spending, spreading funds that are raised right here far and wide over the county's 900 square miles.
As we enter another winter storm season, already we have thousands of houses without power for up to 48 hours. This is far from the first time and we will be extremely lucky if it is the last time this season. It is time for PUD commissioners to reconsider their spending priorities and put all the Peninsula's main transmission lines underground.
PUD linemen and other employees get gold stars for their heroic efforts restoring power after storms. But they shouldn't be put in these dangerous situations year after year. Neither PUD workers nor the public should be subjected to the danger of failed transmission lines.
The Peninsula is in most ways a single long and skinny town - a complicated and sometimes politically fractured one, but still basically a town. It is time for residents to speak together and demand that we receive first-class service. We are the "Public" in PUD.