August 12, 2020

Suggesting That Government Launch Program to Place Power Wires Underground

To The Editor:

My wife and I are senior citizens and we live on Governors Lane in Princeton. Last week, we endured another power outage because of the storm. Power outages are very frightening for all, but especially for seniors who sense a feeling of abandonment and helplessness during that sort of experience.

Several years ago we went to Amsterdam, Holland, for a one-week vacation. Amsterdam is a city of culture, great restaurants, beer, museums, and lots of great activities. While on a tour outside the city with a Dutch guide, we noticed that there were no power wires, on poles, anywhere. No wires crossing roads, highways, streets. And when there is a storm or inclement  weather, no power outages.

Our guide explained to us that the government of Holland decided, about ten years before we were there, to launch a government-sponsored campaign to place all wires underground. Good for the environment, good for everyone’s welfare.

Driving in Mercer County and many other communities not only in New Jersey, but across America, we see a network of wires crossing highways, streets, and roads in a confused “spaghetti-like” fashion. When there is a storm with strong winds such as we recently experienced, poles that hold these wires are vulnerable to fall down, damaging the power wires and causing dangerous power outages.

I do not know why our government cannot launch a multi-billion-dollar program to take away all the poles and place the power wires underground. A program such as this would employ hundreds of thousands of people, pay them good wages, and they would pay taxes on their earnings. It would be a win-win for all.

If money is needed for a program such as this, maybe our government could raise taxes, yes raise taxes, on the population of Americans who are millionaires and billionaires. People such as Donald Trump,  Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Steve Mnuchin, Elaine Chao, Nancy Pelosi, and many others who may or may not be in government who can easily afford to help fund a program that would help all Americans.

President Eisenhower, who I consider to be a great, very underrated president, launched the interstate highway system. It was a multi-billion-dollar expenditure. The money came from user fees, in the form of gas taxes, that replenished the Highway Trust Fund. The burden on the U.S. Treasury was minor. Think of where we would be without great highways like Interstate 95 that we all use and enable us to travel easily, safely, across our country.

A government program to place all power wires underground would be courageous, productive, cost–effective, and enable all Americans to live in a safer, more protected environment. Instead of all the division and negative attitude that prevails in our society, perhaps we can find a program that will unite us and bring us together.

Howard W. Silbersher
Governors Lane