Skip to Main Content
November 07, 2011
Brattle Principal Bill Zarakas Comments on Limits Faced By Electrical Utilities for Boston Globe Article

Brattle principal Bill Zarakas was featured in a recent Boston Globe article that discusses the limits of the electric power system in the wake of recent outages in the Northeast.

The article, “Why’s power hard-wired? Dollars and Physics,” explains that despite technological advances that have allowed for wireless communication, such as the Internet and cell phones, electrical utilities are still dependent upon above-ground wires. The mechanics of delivering electricity has remained essentially unchanged since its development more than a century ago, due to both the physics behind electricity transmittal and the high cost of moving electric wires below ground.

“If Alexander Graham Bell came back today he wouldn’t necessarily recognize the telecommunications system,’’ Mr. Zarakas points out. “But if Thomas Edison came back today he would completely understand our entire grid. It hasn’t changed very much from a design standpoint.’’

Mr. Zarakas explains that many electrical providers are studying the costs of moving lines and transformers below ground, but the cost can be up to 10 times more than it is to hang lines from poles. The increased cost could mean higher rates for consumers.

To read the article in its entirety, please visit the Boston Globe’s website.