Howls follow every ice storm that leaves thousands of Carolina residents stranded without power: Bury utility lines underground!
But a Duke Energy test to do just that has flopped. Duke told the N.C. Utilities Commission this week that it's ending a three-year program to bury municipal lines because no cities ever signed on.
Duke had offered matching money, totaling $1.5 million a year, to up to three N.C. cities to bury lines. They would focus on lines especially vulnerable to storms or accidents. The idea was to see if burying lines would be worth doing on a larger scale.
About 20 towns and cities expressed initial interest, but none signed on. Many cited budget problems in a weak economy.
The experiment continues in South Carolina, where Greenville signed on in 2010. Its Weather the Storm program offers up to $1,500 from Duke and the city for each resident who asks to have their power lines buried.
More than 1,300 requests had been filed by last June, and the city was assessing up to to six projects in commercial areas.