At least 100 transmission towers and poles damaged in storm, TVA says (updated)

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On Monday, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reported that its personnel continue to work to repair damaged power transmission equipment in the areas impacted by the recent severe weather. Over the weekend, powerful storms including record-setting tornados raced through the southeast USA killing hundreds, causing millions of dollars in damage and knocking out power to thousands of people in the region.

TVA said that power has been restored to more than 85% of those initially affected in its service territory.

Initial damage assessments to TVA’s power system – the nation’s second largest – were completed on Sunday and confirmed that the weekend’s storms were the most destructive to impact the region since the April 2011 tornado outbreak:

  • At least 100 transmission towers and poles were damaged or destroyed.
  • 29 TVA transmission lines were knocked out of service.
  • Immediately after the storms, more than 20 customer connection points – the interface between TVA’s system and local power companies – were offline and more than 250,000 electric users were without power.

Since deploying immediately after the storms passed, TVA and local power company repair crews have made significant progress, it said. As of Monday evening:

  • 14 customer connection points had been restored in northwestern Tennessee and western Kentucky. 
  • Nine TVA transmission lines that directly supply electricity to local power companies remain out of service and are the primary focus of TVA’s current restoration efforts.
  • TVA helicopters have completed initial damage assessments of the impacted transmission system; engineers are working to finalize repair plans, and materials needed to restore the system are being transported to the area. As of Monday evening, engineering work had been completed on 29 impacted lines.
  • More than 160 TVA line workers and additional contractor line crews are working 24/7 to repair damage.
  • Portable transformers and additional equipment are already arriving in the hardest hit areas to temporarily restore service to severely damaged switchyards while more permanent repairs can be made.

In the aftermath of the storms, nearly 250,000 consumers were without power in TVA’s service area. By noon Monday, the number had been reduced to just over 38,500.

The region’s public power system is a partnership between TVA and local power companies. TVA’s transmission system delivers power to connection points with local power companies, whose own distribution systems supply power directly to homes and businesses. Both systems must be operational to safely provide reliable electricity.

Due to the extent of the damage in some areas, TVA said it would be unable to provide any specific time for full restoration. The need to repair both TVA’s transmission system and local power company distribution systems may lead to longer restoration timing. 

The safety of TVA’s team members, emergency responders and the public remain the highest priority for the utility, it said.

Update Tuesday, 12/14 Morning

TVA said personnel restored power to three additional customer connection points overnight as teams continue to work around the clock to repair damage to TVA’s transmission system from weekend storms.

Connection points are the interface between TVA’s transmission system and local power company distribution systems. Since Saturday, TVA has restored 17 of the 21 connection points serving local power companies impacted by the storms in northwest Tennessee and western Kentucky. One additional connection point serving a TVA direct- served industrial customer remains out of service.

The number of consumers without power has been reduced by more than 85% over Saturday’s peaks. More than 160 TVA line workers, additional contractor crews and TVA Aviation Services helicopter crews remain focused on repairing or replacing 97 transmission towers and poles and miles of transmission line to fully restore power in the impacted area. Hundreds of additional TVA employees are working across the region to support the field teams’ efforts.

Update Tuesday 12/14

TVA and local power company personnel have restored power to more than 226,000 consumers since weekend storms caused outages across a wide area of northwest Tennessee and western Kentucky.

On Tuesday, crews restored another customer connection point – the interface between TVA’s transmission system and local power company distribution system – serving Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation, as well as a connection point for one of TVA’s direct-served industrial customers. Since Saturday, 18 of the 21 impacted connection points serving seven different local power companies have been restored.

TVA crews are focused on returning the final three connection points to service, which impact areas near Mayfield, Ky., and Lexington, Tenn. In both areas, storms damaged transmission towers that must be cleared and rebuilt before power lines can be safely re-energized. In addition, extensive damage to the Mayfield Electric and Water Systems’ own distribution network may slow restoration effort to residents in that area.

Update 12/16

TVA said its line crews have restored power to two of the final three customer connection points impacted by weekend storms. 

In coordination with teams from Lexington Electric Service, power service should soon be restored to nearly 9,000 of their customers.

TVA crews overcame delays caused by high winds overnight to safely complete rebuilding two complex transmission structures supporting multiple high-voltage lines. 

Before the Lexington connection points were energized, TVA and impacted local power companies had fewer than 16,000 consumers without power as of noon Thursday.

TVA crews continue to coordinate with Mayfield Electric and Water Services in Kentucky to restore service to one of the hardest hit areas, which suffered extensive damage to its electric infrastructure. Repairs to both Mayfield Electric and TVA systems must be completed before power can flow reliably to residents.

Even after power is fully restored, TVA and local power company crews will continue to work to repair numerous secondary lines needed to ensure the electric system remains reliable and resilient, as well as provide ongoing community support for rebuilding activities.

Author

  • Jennifer Runyon is a Senior Content Director at Clarion Energy, writing, editing and posting content on POWERGRID International and planning conference sessions for DISTRIBUTECH's live and virtual events. She is the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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Jennifer Runyon is a Senior Content Director at Clarion Energy, writing, editing and posting content on POWERGRID International and planning conference sessions for DISTRIBUTECH's live and virtual events. She is the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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