When storms rip through the borough, areas such as Middle Village are subject to countless power outages. But new legislation could provide a solution.
The bill, recently passed by the City Council, allows the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS) to conduct a study to determine whether power lines can be moved underground, protecting them from high winds and fallen trees.
“It doesn’t take a severe storm for [residents] to experience power outages,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who has been fighting for this cause since 2010. “Personally, I don’t think there even needs to be a study.”
Crowley also sees this issue as a “tale of two cities,” in which Manhattan has had underground power lines for years, and Queens received the short end of the stick.
“Manhattan is treated differently than the rest of the city,” said Crowley. “People pay the same amount [for maintenance], but get different services.”
Power lines around Glendale as well have literally sparked problems: Crowley recalled a home that caught fire because of overhead electrical wires. Above ground lines can also disrupt the integrity of surrounding trees, which are often cut to make space for the wires. That makes the trees weaker and more susceptible to falling down in a storm, she noted.
There is no set timeline for the study. If approved, Crowley hopes this could also spur power companies to move lines in areas citywide.