By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – Weather related power outages occurred all over Yalobusha County Monday and into Tuesday morning as thunderstorms brought heavy rain and high wind to the area.
Power was out for almost an hour in Water Valley Monday afternoon after rain caused a short-circuit at the 161 kV main substation on Gore Circle.
The outage began around 2:14 p.m. after rainwater seeped into tiny cracks in a ceramic insulator on one of the substation’s structures, said Electric Department Manager Joe Newman.
Around the same time, in western Yalobusha County, power was off for about 32 minutes, according to Marlin Williams of the Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Associa-tion.
“A witness said they saw lighting take out the three-phase line that feeds 51 south of Oakland,” Williams said.
Another outage hit 400 to 500 TVEPA customers around 8:30 p.m. “The majority were back on by 3 a.m. There were some scattered outages until around 7 a.m. Tuesday,” he added.
“Yalobusha County was hit the worse. We had quite a few crews working all through the night,” said Williams.
Water Valley’s Substation
Electric Depart-ment Manager Joe Newman said that the substation is inspected each week by his crews and once a month by a contractor. However, such minuscule cracks as those that caused Monday’s outage can’t be detected visually. “But, a little shower will find them,” he added.
Newman and Andy Hall entered the substation as soon as the outage began. “The phone was already ringing,” he said. “It was the TVA dispatcher asking what they could do to help.”
Although the City purchased the substation from TVA just over two years ago, they still provide assistance in keeping the facility up and running.
Newman and Hall looked over the substation and couldn’t immediately locate anything that would have caused the outage. At 2:33 p.m., as Newman talked with the TVA dispatcher, Hall began turning a crank that would close circuits to reenergize the substation and return power to the City.
As soon as the circuit closed, sparks flew and a loud explosion signaled that a short still existed in the substation’s circuits. The weakened insulator had violently disintegrated sending up a mushroom cloud of brown smoke.
Bits of ceramic and the bolts that held the insulator in place littered the ground near the structure. The metal bolts were too hot to handle for several minutes. Hall had to wear work gloves to protect his hands from the hot metal as he replaced the insulator.
By 3:09 the replacement was in place and at 3:11 the substation reenergized returning power to the town. The Electric Department crew finished just before another shower passed through the area.
The incident is the first major outage at the substation since its purchase from TVA, Newman said.