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WATER VALLEY – A multi-faceted response to a city-wide power outage in Water Valley last week had electricity flowing back through much of the power grid within 15 hours. The outage was reported at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, and the initial estimate for the restoration ranged from 24 to 72 hours as crews scrambled to diagnose the problem at the city’s substation.
“It was a tough situation, but we did everything we could as fast as we could,” Water Valley Electric Department Superintendent Andy Hall reported about the massive effort that included assistance from Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association (TVEPA) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
The TVEPA crew brought transformers from Batesville that allowed electricity flowing from TVEPA lines to connect with city power lines. The connection was made on the south side of Yalobusha General Hospital, where the lines are located only a few feet apart.
“TVEPA had to unhook the transformers from a location in Panola County, load them on a low boy for transport and get them hooked up. They did it in 12 hours,” Hall explained. “Before the sun went down, every residence in the city had power.”
“We brought the largest equipment we have as quick as we could,” Robison told city officials during an emergency meeting last Tuesday during the outage.
The TVEPA power was a temporary fix to restore electricity for much of the city to ensure residents had power as the temperature dipped in the upper 20s Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. A second simultaneous effort was also underway as engineers with TVA were on the scene within hours of the outage to diagnose the problem at the substation. Hall reported TVA immediately rolled a large, mobile transformer to Water Valley from Kentucky, where it had been in service following the December tornadoes that caused widespread damage.
Late Tuesday night the problem was traced to a pressure switch on the large transformer in the city’s substation that had faulted out. By Wednesday morning the crews were ready to put the substation back in service. Power was briefly interrupted around 8:30 a.m. as TVEPA’s equipment was unhooked and electricity was restored at the city’s substation without any glitches. By 9 a.m. the restoration was complete and all city customers including BorgWarner were back online. The TVA mobile generator remained staged at the city substation as a backup in case there were additional problems, but was not needed.
Hall reported the transformer in the city’s aging substation is at least 80 years old and has been in operation more than twice as long as its expected lifespan. City officials have scheduled a special meeting Wednesday at city hall to discuss improvements needed at the substation.