WATER VALLEY – The news that electricity would be off for an entire day in Water Valley on Saturday, Nov. 3, spread fast last week after city officials authorized the requested outage from Tennessee Valley Authority for much-needed maintenance work.
First to clear up any confusion, the outage only affects customers who receive power from the City of Water Valley Electric Department. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) scheduled the outage for maintenance work on the transmission line that feeds the city. The outage will not affect Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association (TVE PA) customers, which is a separate entity from TVA. The outage is scheduled to start around 6 a.m. and continue until dark, an estimated 12 hours.
City electric department manager Andy Hall also stressed that the outage is important to allow critical maintenance, both for his department and TVA. The work by TVA will include replacing aging wood power poles on the main transmission line that feeds the city. The work by the city electric department will include replacing half-a-dozen or more of the smaller power poles in the city.
“We are going to utilize the outage to change some of our critical poles, work that would normally require big outages on our distribution system,” Hall explained. Examples include a pole on Wood Street that is rotten or another broken pole on South Main supporting the power lines that feed the Yalobusha General Hospital. Hall estimated it could take as long as seven hours to replace the Jones Street pole that supports a mass of power lines.
Hall also pointed out aging, 100-feet wood power poles on the TVA transmission line near the bypass that are compromised by cracks and wood pecker holes and are in dire need of replacement. Citing an ice storm as an example, he noted that the added weight of ice on the lines could bring down multiple poles and create an extended outage during winter weather.
For more than a year TVA has worked to replace poles on the transmission line and Hall explained that the remaining poles cannot be replaced while the line is hot.
“There are some angle poles, they have to kill it to work it,” Hall explained about the remaining TVA poles that will be replaced during the outage. “And you have to remember, there is 161,000 volts per line,” he said about the transmission lines.
Back on the local grid, Hall estimated there are at least 60 poles in Water Valley that need to be replaced, but his crew will only have time to address a handful of the critical poles during the Nov. 3 outage. He also said the city is working with an outside contractor to see if it is feasible to get more crews in Water Valley to best utilize the outage.
“There is no good time to do this, but being proactive will be a big help down the road,” he added. Hall also said that any threat of lightning on Nov. 3 could postpone the outage.
Some business owners in town reportedly will use generators to supply power so they can remain open during the outage, or to ensure that refrigerated products aren’t spoiled.
Hall urged anyone who plans to use a generator to be sure and have an electrician hook it up, explaining that if they are not hooked up properly, the electricity could backflow on the city’s electric grid creating extreme danger for his linemen.
Yalobusha General Health Services (YHS) Administrator Terry Varner told the Herald that steps are being taken to ensure that medical care at the hospital and nursing home will not be jeopardized during the outage. Varner also said that YHS will assist anyone in the community who has a health-care device they already own that requires electricity.
Contact the hospital in advance at (662) 473-1411 to make arrangements to come to the nursing home with your medical equipment to plug in for free electricity.