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Electric Department Adds Upgrades

A crane was needed to hoist a 33,000 pound transformer into place at the north substation near the old Big Yank building. The reworked substation is one of several recent improvements to the city’s electrical system to increase reliability. Positioning the transformer are (from left) Michael Richardson, Ricky Ragon, Andy Grass and Joe Newman, department manager. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The Water Valley Electric Department has taken some big steps over the past few months to improve the reliability of the local electrical system.

Recently completed projects include a state-of-the-art power line and the purchase of the 161 kilovolt (kV) substation. Still ongoing is the installation of two transformers at the north substation.

The transformers were a gift from the University of Mississippi, according to Joe Newman, manager of the Water Valley Electric Department. “We got three transformers and the (circuit) breakers to go with them, thanks to Steve Moore and the university,” Newman said. “We got about a million dollars worth of equipment.”

Moore, a Water Valley resident who recently retired as assistant superintendent of power line for the physical plant department at Ole Miss, arranged for the gift of the electrical equipment that was being removed from service at the university.

Newman said he had all of the equipment tested and had two engineering firms look at and approve the plans. The original substation was built in the 1960s and all the hardware is beginning to wear out.

The 4.1 kV substation serves all the businesses west of Main St. and about 35 percent of the residential population of the city in an area from Lee to Dupuy Streets.

Newman added that he hope to have all the work completed and the substation in operation by October.

Other Projects

The WVED recently completed another of its reliability projects with the installation of a new power line to BorgWarner, the system’s largest customer. The automotive component plant consumes well over half the power distributed in the city, Newman said.

The new line, which was built with state of the art equipment, has a dual purpose, he added. “It serves the hospital, nursing home and the doctors’ offices.”

Even though the hospital has generators to run part of their facility, the new line can power the entire medical complex in event the old line were to be knocked out of service.

The department also has purchased the 161 kV substation on Gore Circle from the Tennessee Valley Authority for $1. The Board of Aldermen approved the purchase at the June 3 meeting after Newman explained that Water Valley was the only one of 158 TVA distributors who doesn’t own their substation.

“It will mean more responsibility for us, but it will also mean more revenue and some room to move forward,” Newman said. “It was a progressive move.”

Long-term plans include putting the downtown utilities underground in five to ten years.  “I like to see things going on and moving toward the future,” he said. I want to leave things in better shape than when I got here.”

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