In wake of winter storm, some say more power lines should be underground

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Last week's winter storm left more than 300,000 in the dark across South Carolina and as of today thousands are still without power. Some think that number would be much lower if more power lines were built underground but even then your power may still be knocked out.

Horry Electric manages some 1,500 miles of underground lines. Managing Engineer Reed Cooper said there are some pretty big differences when it comes to running overhead and underground lines.

"Maintenance practices are different, instillation practices are different, and costs are drastically different," added Cooper.

It can cost six times the amount of money to lay down underground lines versus building lines overhead.  That cost may then be pushed on to the customers.

"Bills are already quite high so our members are already paying more than they are comfortable with more than we want them to be paying," said Cooper. "So the more underground you put in if its 6 times more expensive that has to be rolled into the power bill."

Also Cooper noted that just because lines are underground that does not mean the power will not ever be knocked out.

"We have a high water table here and it's corrosive and we have a lot of salt so it's not like you put them in then never have to worry about them," said Cooper.

In Myrtle Beach a multi-million dollar project on Third Ave. South will bury some power lines while in North Myrtle Beach, a plan is underway to move all lines underground in the coming years.

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