CHATHAM, NJ - It is possible to put electric power lines underground in a town such as Chatham Borough and Janet McTague has flown in from Colorado to make a presentation on how it was done in Fort Collins to the Chatham Borough Undergrounding Advisory Committee.

Council member Thad Kobylarz, liaison to the committee, invited the public to the open meeting set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, in the Chatham Borough Municipal Building, 54 Fairmount Ave.

The announcement was made Monday night at the regular meeting of the Borough of Chatham Council, where McTague was introduced.

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According to a "fact sheet" researched and made available by underground advisory member Fran Drew, "several years ago, Fort Collins Utilities spent $23 million to put underground wiring in for 7,300 homes, shops, offices, etc. At the time the cost was $3,500/service. Now the cost is $5,000/service. The utility paid for the underground wiring by deducting 1% of its budget for 10 years and coordinated with the street department so that when there was new paving to be done, you didn't have to re-open the streets for the underground wiring."

McTague, the Electric Utility Project Manager for Fort Collins Light & Power, helped her company earn national recognition for its reliability. McTague will talk about what worked and what didn't work when the wiring was put underground in Fort Collins.

"We are certainly fortunate in Fort Collins to have over 98.7% of our lines underground," McTague said. "In addition to aesthetic benefits, our reliability is extremely high as well."

Drew also reported on underground wiring placed in Pawley's Island, South Carolina and the in-progress project being done in Anaheim, California. 

Ryan Fabbri, the town administrator for Pawley's Island, said the wires were placed underground at a cost of $350 per year over 10 years for each homeowner. 

Tom Bass, an electrical engineer, said that in Anaheim the goal is to put underground wiring on all the main streets in the 50-square-mile community. The project started in 1990. There is a 4% surcharge to the customers from the utility. So far, 130 circuit miles at $5 million per mile have been installed.