LONDONDERRY — With autumn fast approaching, workers at Public Service of New Hampshire are scrambling to repair Londonderry’s many miles of underground power lines before the winter frost.
The town was among the first Granite State communities to require underground utilities in future developments, according to PSNH spokesman Elizabeth LaRocca.
That mid-1970s mandate means much of the town’s underground cable system is now nearly 40 years old and reaching the end of its productive lifespan.
That factor has no doubt contributed to the higher frequency of power outages in recent years, LaRocca said, though company officials are working hard to address the problem.
In 2005, PSNH embarked on a formal program addressing the older developments and the following year the underground cables on both Shasta Drive and Rolling Ridge Road were replaced for approximately $1 million.
“It can be difficult to determine where an outage is located when it comes to our underground cables,” LaRocca said on Thursday.
Complicating the matter further is the tendency for residents to attempt to screen the green transformer boxes on their property by spreading mulch and planting shrubbery around them.
“This can often cause the equipment to fail prematurely,” LaRocca said. “When our crews have limited access to the equipment, they have no choice but to remove that vegetation and that wastes precious time and resources.”
Right now, PSNH officials aren’t wasting any time in preparing for the coming winter season.
LaRocca said the ultimate goal is to go the less-costly route of rejuvenating the existing cables rather than waiting for them to completely fail.
Right now, Londonderry has 15 underground cable projects scheduled for completion by year’s end, at a total cost of $1.9 million.
As of mid-August, work crews had completed replacement cable work at Fieldstone Drive in the Mountain Home Estates complex, as well as along Old Country Road and South Road in the Olde Country Village complex.
Scheduled for rejuvenation and/or repairs are 21 sections of Arrow Head Estates at Evergreen Circle and Forest, Hemlock and Spruce streets; five sections of Woodland Village at Capital Hill and Constitutional Drive; Davis Drive, Holton Circle and sections of Winding Pond Road in Century Village.
Among the sections being replaced are another 10 sections of Arrow Head Estates, an area of Red Deer Road, four sections of Royal Lane, four sections of Sherwood Road, a section of Wellington Woods off Tokanel Drive, and about nine sections of Wimbledon Estates, located off Sherwood Road.
“The goal is to try and repair or rejuvenate as much as we can,” LaRocca said. “When we have to go in and replace these cables altogether, there’s a lot of trenching involved and that can get very disruptive and very costly.”
This year, PSNH’s southern division earmarked $4.3 million solely to address underground cables.