Thursday, June 28, 2012
Study: upgrade needed at Ashland substation
By SUE WATSON
A Holly Springs Utility Department consultant has recommended a new power line from Mt. Pleasant along Highway 72 to the Ashland substation and an upgrade of the Ashland facility.
The suggestion comes after a study of the reliability of electricity during difficult weather conditions.
Don Hollingsworth, general manager of HSUD, recommended the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen approve a $3 million expenditure that would be its part of the improvements. TVA has agreed to pay for the new line that will help the system overall. TVA has said it would build the project out by 2017. TVA would spend $17 million to build the high voltage line.
The HSUD initiative would improve reliability of power to Benton County and Ashland by running a new line to take pressure off the old 46,000-volt line that runs through about 15 miles of the Holly Springs National Forest, which includes difficult-to-cross wetlands.
“The system is old and built with wooden poles in the early 1960s,” Hollingsworth said. “When trees fall on the line it’s hard to get to. In adverse weather sometimes it takes eight hours to fix it and put it back together. People in Benton County and Ashland can be without power and there's no backup.”
The new supply line TVA would build is proposed to be a 161,000-volt power line that would run down Highway 72, then cut across to Ashland, bypassing the National Forest. Ashland substation would have to be upgraded to handle that much voltage. The line would also take pressure off the South Holly Springs Substation which undergoes stress during thunderstorms and other adverse conditions.
“TVA approved the plan because of the reliability problem. It was justified,” Hollingsworth said.
He said TVA wants to know if the city wants the new line and is willing to spend the $3 million to upgrade the Ashland substation. If so, TVA will keep it in its budget, he said.
In asking the board of aldermen to approve the upgrade, Hollingsworth said he is not sure how much customers’ bills will be increased to pay for the upgrade. He expects residential customers across the system would pay up to $3 a month in rate increases for five years. Each class of customer would pay the same rate increase, he said, according to law.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry asked why Holly Springs residents and customers would be asked to pay for the upgrade to benefit the northern and eastern portion of the system in Marshall and Benton counties.
“Everybody in each class (commercial, residential, industrial) is going to pay the same,” Hollingsworth said.
No action was taken by the board.
In other business, aldermen:
• approved a rural fire department agreement with Marshall County that distributes fire department funds to the city and rural fire departments.
• gave permission for Ken Holbrook to submit a proposal for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant. The grant would provide up to $200,000 for live fire equipment and for training, Holbrook said. The city would pay a 5 percent match or about $10,000 if the grant is awarded.
• approved travel for firefighters to the state fire academy for training.
• heard a report of how meter tampering is a significant problem in some subdivisions. Hollingsworth said his meter readers had found nine meters tampered with at Lake Center. The new digital meters will not be as subject to tampering, he said.
• passed resolutions for financing of the Highway 4 water project and to sell $1.35 million in bonds for a TVA loan to install automated meter readers over the entire system.
• approved advertising for a request for proposals for health insurance and a bridge plan for employees with HSUD.
• authorized travel for D. Miller for training.
• approved advertising for property insurance for the city.
• discussed the construction of the new splash pad at Spring Hollow Park.
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