Richmond's storm-battered Northside buries lines underground - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond's storm-battered Northside buries lines underground


It’s been just over a year since a powerful storm swept through Richmond and Henrico last June, toppling trees and knocking out power for days, to nearly 300,000 customers. One of the most ravaged areas, Richmond's Northside, now has a permanent solution to its recurring power outages during storms. The Bellevue neighborhood now has its power lines buried underground.

"Thousands and thousands of people were out. So, we knew it would be days before we got the power back on," said Rob Snowden, who lives in the Bellevue neighborhood, which was badly hit by the storm. Residents there lost power for four days.

Snowden has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. Every time his home falls victim to a branch taking out a power line, he's out of work for the day since he works online from home.

"(A branch) hits the wire, boom power goes out," continued Snowden.

Another challenge at Snowden's home is a thick bamboo forest in his backyard. The power lines used to go right through the bamboo trees.

"You can see how thick it is, and, the slightest movement and there goes the power," described Snowden.

Now, Rob and his neighbors have their lines safely buried underground. Dominion finished the project in the area three months ago. 

"Always before you see lightening on the horizon you think, ‘Oh, let's make sure we got milk. Get the extension cords out, just in case it happens.’ Now I don't worry about it."

Dominion plans to bury 4,000 miles of power lines across Virginia. Four hundred miles of lines will be underground in Richmond and Henrico. Bellevue is one of nine neighborhoods already targeted by Dominion. Right now, work to put the lines underground is still ongoing in Stratford Hills and Oxford neighborhoods in south Richmond. Dominion has also buried lines in Thurloe, Hioaks, Avondale, Traylor Estates, Woodlawn Farms, Tuckahoe Village, and Laburnum.

"About ten percent of the mileage that we're going to do for the (underground) program is going to be right here (Richmond area). That's an indication that we pick these projects solely based on recent outage history," said Alan Bradshaw, Dominion’s director of strategic undergrounding.

Currently, Dominion customers pay 50 cents a month to fund the underground program. That is slated to rise to 82 cents if it's approved by the state, later this month.

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