Going underground after the big storm

Going underground after the big storm

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Good news. We are finally off the generator and back onto the electricity supplied routinely, but not to us these last nine days, by PSEG. Why have we been suffering while others around us have had electricity all this time? The answer has to do with supply and demand. Because there has been so much demand for contractors and carpenters as a result of the recent storm, we have had to wait our turn.

When the huge, stately tree that lived next to our driveway was snapped off at its roots by what the National Weather Service termed as straight-line wind — but not a tornado — it collapsed across our parking lot. The falling tree pulled down the lines and the tube that served as a conduit for the electrical wires on the rear of the building, too.

In effect it snapped the tube in two as if it were a matchstick. The electric company was not going to restore the lines that had been mounted outside the building until we were sure of the permanence of the wooden construction of our rear wall. And that required the approval of a contractor.

So we were hung up, waiting for help that wasn’t hurrying our way. Yes, we were kept in business by a big generator, powering our computers, Internet and phone lines but decidedly not our air conditioning. That required more energy than our generator could deliver. Perhaps you didn’t notice, those of you reading this, that there were a lot of beastly hot days during the last nine. We noticed. It was like the historically miserable sweatshop, I imagine. We kept going but it wasn’t pretty.

We would still be waiting but for a happy alternative. Yes, it required the approval of others, but that was fairly quickly forthcoming. We decided to trench the distance from the electric lines on the road, across the parking lot and into the basement. By doing so, we were able to avoid refastening the power lines to the back of our building.

Now we are no longer in a hurry for a contractor. More satisfying, too, is putting the electric lines underground, something we have been editorializing about for most of our almost-40 years of publishing. We can still lose power in future storms if lines are broken somewhere on the roads leading to our building, but not ever again if the problem is within our property.

In order to trench our way from the roadside electric lines to our building, we first had to get approval from PSEG, certifying that there were no other lines underground that we might be cutting into in the process. They call such on-site evaluation “marking,” and you have undoubtedly seen differently colored painted arrows and drawings on the roads that indicate where utility lines are or are not to go.

It took the better part of a day to do the trenching, lay in the lines, cover them with dirt and blacktop the ditch. PSEG was then summoned, and to their credit they arrived with three trucks that evening and
approved of the entire job.
We are set now to power on.