Limbs can't hit underground lines

"Puget Sound Energy crews and contractors have been a common sight on Saratoga Road, one of three places on South Whidbey where power lines have been placed underground this fall.Jim Larsen, staff photoAfter years of battling flying tree limbs, Puget Sound Energy has decided to put some power lines where the limbs can't find them -- underground.South Whidbey's frequent power outages are largely attributed to limbs that blow off trees and crash into overhead lines. Sometimes, not much of a wind is needed, particularly in heavily wooded areas.That's why Puget Sound Energy decided to bury some lines in places where outages are common. In the past few weeks, crews have slowed traffic on Saratoga Road as ditches were dug and lines run down poles and into the ground. That job is nearly complete, according to Kit Maret, senior engineer for Puget Sound Energy.About a mile of electrical line on Saratoga Road is now underground, starting just outside the Langley city limits and going past towering stands of alder and fir trees. Maret said the project was budgeted at $150,000.Lines were also placed underground on Swede Hill Road leading to the Scatchet Head community at the cost of $100,000; as well as about 1,500 feet along Resort Road in a project costing $75,000. All these areas are hit pretty heavily (by tree limbs), Maret said.The three projects will result in a number of power poles being removed, Maret said. If television cable is strung from the poles then only the tops will be removed.Maret said Puget Sound Energy is budgeting for next year, and there will likely be more Whidbey Island areas that will receive underground lines. "

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