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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Storms, Trees, and Newspaper Articles

Today's Glasgow Daily Times has an excellent article about the recent storms and the problems they have caused us in dealing with the damage. While the article is completely accurate and true to what I said in the board meeting, I should have done a better job of explaining myself in that meeting. So, I am going to try that now.

The problematic part of my remarks related to downed conductors during storms. No matter what the tone of my remarks was in the meeting and in the article, the one thing that must be remembered is that any downed conductor should be treated as if it were energized and deadly. Although my remarks sounded fine to me as I said them (I'm sure this surprises no one), when I read them in the Glasgow Daily Times, they sounded terrible.

I was trying to explain the problems of having enough personnel to respond to the many calls about downed conductors during several days of intense storms. While it is true that we often can make a judgement about whether a conductor is energized or not from our dispatch center using our telemetry, we still want to get someone out to look at each of them before anyone touches, drives over, or comes near any downed conductor. The problem is, when we have thousands of folks without power and it is 2:00 a.m. and we have only a limited number of folks to respond, it is likely to take a while for us to get there to take a look at a downed conductor. Calling 911 instead of our number does not help the situation at all, it fact, it endangers folks who may have critical information to get to the emergency services folks.

This line of intense, day-after-day weather taxes our team that is designed to be responsive to the sort of weather we get 98% of the time. The only message we meant to get out is that unusually violent weather can cause our response to take longer than usual and we all need to recognize that. But, even if you have to wait a while, treat all downed conductors as deadly energized hazards until someone from our team can arrive to survey the situation.

4 comments:

Jason said...

Your comments in the newspaper didn't sound that bad. I know this may sound so simple but why aren't electrical lines buried underground?

Billy Ray said...

What we felt bad about was the tone of my comments about downed lines. I did not want anyone to interpret my remarks as dismissing the danger of a downed power line.

The reason they are not underground is cost and complexity. Your electric bill would be roughly doubled to provide the necessary revenue to place facilities underground in the rocky environment of Barren County.

jwhite6069 said...

what would happen if the TVA's 161kva line that feeds Glasgow were to go down in a storm?

Billy Ray said...

Well it would depend on which line and which part of the 161 kV lines failed. Now Glasgow is served by two different lines so failure on either of them would be offset by the remaining line. Of course those two lines feed off of other lines in the TVA grid, and there are certain ways that segments of the grid could fail that would put Glasgow totally in the dark, just like many cities in Alabama are right now.