The Cost of Undergrounding

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After reading the three passionate letters (June 5 issue of the NB Indy) about how antediluvian and otherwise stupid residents of Newport Height who oppose undergrounding power lines happen to be, it occurred to me that some down to earth research was merited.

So I called a residential electrician, two in fact. My question was what additional costs would I face, beyond the $20,000 to $25,000 the City of Newport Beach was tossing out, to make the Heights pretty.

Both electricians were state licensed electrical contractors, one part of a large operation based in Irvine, the other an independent small businessman. Both had extensive experience with hooking up service to newly undergrounded grids.

They looked at our meter, its location, our additional panels. We surmised where the transformer vaults might go along our alley. Bottom line: our additional costs, if these vaults were in place by the end of the year (which they won’t be), would approach $10,000.

We would need a new meter. We would have to relocate that meter, trench for the “Sweep” from the vault to the new meter. Said vault could be a considerable distance from our meter because Edison determines which vault would service which parcels. We are on a corner, so even though a vault is a few feet from our meter, Edison might establish our service from a vault across the street. The distance from the vault to the meter is a pricey proposition.

Then there is the size of the cables coming from the vault to the meter. Undoubtedly bigger, carrying more amps. Amps can be dangerous, so the cables, or lines, from the meter to the house may have to be upgraded. KaChing, KaChing.

Are you getting my drift here? There are so many variables to this “adventure,”with costs dependent on conditions/specifications arising from the $400,000 feasibility study (oh yeah, that), that the reasonable expectation of just how much a parcel owner is looking at for all this becomes fanciful.

Other than having children, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would embark on a project with so many ill-defined elements and open ended costs.

Add to this the opacity of the City in its response to questions from those in opposition, including no responses at all, the weighting of the votes, should an election come to pass, based on assessment benefit and the admission of the City Manager that Edison’s costs and charges are a “black box,” anyone in opposition to this process should take pride in asking questions. Regarding the process for determining assessment benefit? No one is sharing that one. Finally, these connection costs are up front, out of pocket. They can’t be rolled into the “special assessment.”

And all of this cost and grief for making the Heights, a heretofore lovely, convivial, reasonably well knit community, pretty?

No thanks.

Lynda Adams

Newport Heights


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