POLL: Hydro explains why they can't just bury power lines to prevent outages

As Hydro crews work around the clock to reconnect the thousands of Quebecers still in the cold and the dark following the snow and ice storm earlier this week, the question many are asking, why can't they bury the lines underground and have fewer massive outages like this?

The Nicolet report looking into the causes of the 1998 ice storm recommended that burying Hydro lines become a government priority.

But it hasn't happened because the bottom line is cost.

"Putting our whole distribution network underground would cost somewhere around $100-billion. That's a lot of money," said spokesman Cendrix Bouchard in an interview with CJAD 800.

"That would mean that the rates would go up and at a rate that would be unacceptable for our customers."

And there are other problems.

"It's more complicated sometimes to repair a problem underground," said Bouchard.

Bouchard acknowledged that some lines are buried, for example in new housing developments. But for the most part, it would be too costly to re-do the whole network. 

Bouchard added that even though there would be easier maintenance and fewer massive power outages with underground power lines, it wouldn't make up for the costs.

"With an investment around $100B, we don't believe the maths would add up for that," said Bouchard.

So until costs and technology are cheaper...

"We strongly believe that controlling vegetation is the key and that's what we're working on," said Bouchard.

Maintenance on trees and pruning branches costs around $60M a year.