Storm-proofing power lines would come at a high cost, College Park mayor says

Tuesday’s severe storm hit College Park, Maryland, particularly hard — violent wind and heavy rain damaged homes, brought down trees and left much of the city, including the University of Maryland, without power.

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn told WTOP that burying the city’s power lines has been the subject of an ongoing conversation in the community.

“It would definitely be a benefit to the durability of our grid, to making sure that we are less likely to lose power when things like this do happen,” Wojahn told Megan Cloherty on WTOP’s DMV Download podcast.

“We would love to see that happen. The challenge is that it’s very expensive to do,” he said. He estimates it would cost $1 million a mile to bury the power lines.

Wojahn said the city’s entire budget is around $20 million; he said it would be impossible to bury the lines without outside funding. The city applied for a federal grant to pay for storm-proofing power lines but was rejected.

But in recent years, he said, Pepco, which serves College Park, has been proactive in maintaining equipment, including trimming and removing trees that could bring down power lines.

Pepco said Tuesday’s storm had an impact on the power of more than 41,000 customers in its service area in D.C. and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland.

As of Friday afternoon, PEPCO reported that 59 customers in College Park were still without power.


Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

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Destruction is seen in Olney, Maryland, after storms on July 12, 2022. (NBC Washington/Brad Freitas)

Destruction is seen in Olney, Maryland, after storms on July 12, 2022. (NBC Washington/Brad Freitas)

Destruction is seen in Olney, Maryland, after storms on July 12, 2022. (NBC Washington/Brad Freitas)

Destruction is seen in Olney, Maryland, after storms on July 12, 2022. (NBC Washington/Brad Freitas)

A house in College Park sustained a tremendous amount of damage after storms on July 12, 2022. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

Tree companies will be busy in College Park as residents clean up the damage from a storm on July 12. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

Damage like this is being seen across the D.C. area after a powerful storm on July 12. This is a tree down in College Park. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

A downed tree is seen in College Park a day after a powerful storm. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

Lightning rips through a storm sky over D.C.’s Washington Monument on July 12, 2022. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

The July 12 storms seen over Reston Town Center in Virginia. (Courtesy Susan Van Devanter Infeld)

The July 12 storm seen over Reston Town Center in Virginia. (Courtesy Susan Van Devanter Infeld)

Lightning strikes during the July 12 storms throughout the D.C. region. (Courtesy Josh Abrams)

A tree falls on a house in Olney, Maryland, following a severe thunderstorm on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Courtesy Bill Jones)

Storm damage from College Park.

Storm damage in College Park.

A rainbow forms after a storm in the D.C. area on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (WTOP/Sae Robinson)

Firefighters chop up a fallen tree on Jones Beach Road and Beach Drive. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

A tree falls on a house in Olney, Maryland, after a strong storm on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Courtesy Tim Pruss)

Strong thunderstorms cause downed trees in Olney, Maryland, on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. (Courtesy Tim Pruss)

The sun sets over Montgomery County, Maryland, after severe thunderstorms on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
(WTOP/Abigail Constantino)

<p>Storms subside over Montgomery County, Maryland, on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.</p>
(WTOP/Kate Ryan)

<p>Ominous clouds approach Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Tuesday.</p>

<p>The front rolls in over Catharpin, Virginia, on Tuesday.</p>

<p>The front rolls in over Catharpin, Virginia, on Tuesday.</p>
(Courtesy John Robson)

<p>Dark clouds moved in over Nationals Park on Tuesday ahead of the Nats game against Seattle.</p>
(WTOP/Dave Preston)

<p>Small hail fell in downtown Bethesda Tuesday afternoon.</p>

<p>Storm clouds form over Herndon, Virginia.</p>
(Courtesy Ben Cleveland)

<p>Storm clouds form over Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.</p>
(Courtesy Rick Horten)

(1/28)
The sun sets over Montgomery County, Maryland, after severe thunderstorms on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.
<p>Storms subside over Montgomery County, Maryland, on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.</p>
<p>Ominous clouds approach Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Tuesday.</p>
<p>The front rolls in over Catharpin, Virginia, on Tuesday.</p>
<p>The front rolls in over Catharpin, Virginia, on Tuesday.</p>
<p>Dark clouds moved in over Nationals Park on Tuesday ahead of the Nats game against Seattle.</p>
<p>Small hail fell in downtown Bethesda Tuesday afternoon.</p>
<p>Storm clouds form over Herndon, Virginia.</p>
<p>Storm clouds form over Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.</p>

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