Mountain Musings with Uncle Mott – Wichita Lineman

Oct 4, 2023 | Uncle Mott


Well, here we go again, not just one planned power outage, but two of these nuisances are planned for Oct. 7 and Oct. 14, from 10 p.m. to noon each day. Please excuse me for not being funny this week, although I am funny looking, but this is serious stuff.

Edison just doesn’t get it; we don’t want their stinkin’ power outage or their stinkin’ above ground, so-called “coated” powerlines, which have been responsible for several horrific wildfires in recent years, most recently during the 2020 Bobcat Fire, which was caused by a fallen powerline and charred 160 square miles of the Angeles National Forest. That one cost them $121 million.

I am a lineman for the county, and I drive the main road, searchin’ in the sun for another overload. I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine, and the Wichita Lineman is still on the line. (“Wichita Lineman” – Glen Campbell – 1968)

No matter how many times I’ve begged Edison to bury their powerlines, like what’s required in many communities throughout Southern California, they just shrug their shoulders and complain that it would cost too much. They had the nerve to send two of their representatives to last month’s Crest Forest MAC meeting to tell our citizens the same thing, that it would cost too much.

OK, tell that to the folks in the Northern California town of Paradise, which burned to the ground in 2018 because one of their powerlines got smacked by a tree limb, snapped, hit the ground and ignited a blaze that destroyed 19,000 homes and killed 85 persons. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) ended up in bankruptcy after shelling out $25.5 billion for that little snafu. In retrospect, they would have been billions ahead had they buried their dang powerlines.

Burying powerlines ain’t cheap. In fact, the Public Utilities Commission estimates Edison’s cost to do so ranges from $1.83 to $5.23 million per mile. On average, that would be about $3.53 million per mile. For Crestline, with approximately 60 miles of roads, it would cost Edison about $212 million to bury their powerlines. This is a pittance compared to the $2.1 billion they would be liable for if one of their powerlines sparks a blaze that destroys over 7,000 homes, businesses and other structures in Crestline, and even more if the blaze were to spread to other nearby communities.

In the meantime, you might want to stock up on ice prior to Edison’s planned power outages to prevent food in your fridge and freezer from rotting. Also, stock up on batteries for the flashlights you will need to see after dark, and don’t forget to unplug your computers, televisions and other costly appliances that could get fried if there is a power surge when they turn the power back on. When all is said and done, I think I’m gonna need a vacation.

I know I need a small vacation, but it don’t look like rain and if it snows that stretch down south won’t ever stand the strain, and I need you more than want you and I want you for all time, and the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.

Keep it flyin’,

Uncle Mott


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