The Mayor’s Task Force on Power Line Undergrounding is meeting right now to discuss solutions to the major outages the city has faced recently, in particular—-you guessed it—-moving power lines underground. A full undergrounding of the city’s remaining overhead lines would eliminate most of the storm-related outages, but it would also cost $5.8 billion, according to a 2010 report commissioned by the city.

For some D.C. residents, that’s $5.8 billion too much. Nearly 200 protesters packed the task force meeting and the hallway outside, chanting “zero for Pepco!” Those inside the hearing room were escorted out as the hearing got underway, but the loud chants continued outside the door.

In front of the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance to the Wilson Building, the protesters erected a giant inflatable pig, bearing the words “Pepco is greedy.” They handed out flyers that read, in part:

Underground Power Line Cost is D.O.P.
Dead on Pepco
Tell Pepco and City Hall
“We will not pay for underground lines.”
Bury Pepco Greed Before We Bury Power Lines on the Backs Of D.C. Poor

The flyers are the work of nonprofit Our DC. Travis Dupree, who was leading the protest group, said he was against raising the cost to ratepayers when Pepco received tax breaks and banked huge sums.

“We just think they should pay,” he said.

I’ll have a column in tomorrow’s paper about Pepco and the undergrounding proposals. Stay tuned….

Photo by Darrow Montgomery