RHINELANDER, Wis. (WXPR) - Public utility regulators have approved a 220-million dollar project to bury certain power lines. Wisconsin Public Service plans to convert more than a thousand miles of overhead power lines to underground ones. Tom Steffan from WPS says the project should create more reliable electric service for Northwoods customers. “We figured out doing a pilot study that if we in some cases buried those power lines, and put them underground instead of having them mixed in and interfering with trees, we started seeing reliability and service levels really started rising substantially."
Steffan says the move comes in response to customer complaints of increased outages, especially in bad weather. "What happened up there is we noticed that certain areas, particularly in the heavily forested areas in Northern Wisconsin, we've been having more outages and electric reliability issues. Usually because of storms and high winds, and then the power would go off, and the customers were telling us that they've had those numbers of outages." WPS says the 5-year project could result in a less than five dollar a month rate increase for the average residential customer. The utility will contact residents along the construction route when work is set to begin in the area.