By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – The massive job to simultaneously replace ten 100-foot poles on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) transmission line and another half-dozen poles on the city grid was completed an hour and 16 minutes ahead of schedule Saturday. The power outage, scheduled by TVA from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., ended at 4:44 p.m. after all work was completed without a hitch, according to Water Valley Electric Department Superintendent Andy Hall.
TVA crews called the 12-hour citywide outage a historic event as their workers from across the region brought in millions of dollars in equipment for the big day in Water Valley. The maintenance work is part of a $1.5 million project to replace aging poles on the transmission line that runs from Batesville to Coffeeville. The transmission line includes the line that feeds the Water Valley substation, which then feeds the entire town.
Hall explained that the outage also created an opportunity for six critical poles in the city to be replaced, work that was aided by manpower from Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association (TVEPA) and contractors from Gray’s Power Supply, LLC.
“I would like to thank the community for understanding,” Hall reported Monday, adding that even with the inconvenience, citizens were very complimentary of the work. “I think everybody was aware that the work will increase the reliability of our system,” Hall added.
Hall also expressed gratitude for TVEPA for assisting after the neighboring utility company provided power to the hospital, nursing home and clinic.
“The hospital and nursing home was one of the biggest concerns during the outage, both for the city and TVA, and the assistance by TVEPA took care of that,” Hall explained. “They also provided guys and equipment.”
TVA crews spent several days before Saturday staging equipment for the outage. Hall said his department also prepared new poles and dug holes to have as much work done as possible ahead of the 12-hour window. Preparation in the hours leading up to the outage also included checking to ensure generators in town were installed properly and would not create a backflow on the lines, a hazard that for the crews.
“We checked the generator at Larson’s Cash Saver at midnight as the power was switched over,” Hall said. Other businesses were checked early Saturday morning.
“It was a long day, but I am glad we got it behind us,” Hall added. “We have a good group of guys at the city who work hard day and night to make sure you have power.”
And as an Alabama native and avid Crimson Tide fan, when the game ended with a big 29-0 shutout over LSU Saturday night, Hall missed it. He had already conked out for the night.