Photo by Barry BurlesonFrom left are George Humphreys with Holly Springs Utility Department, Randall Abel with North East Power, Michael Howell with HSUD, and Steve Chunn with TVA.
Photo by Barry BurlesonSteve Chunn, transmission service manager with TVA, explains the electrical system improvements well underway in Marshall and Benton counties.
Power system gets major upgrades
Almost $22 million is being used to improve the electrical system in the Holly Springs Utility Department service area.
“We have a lot of upgrades going on to benefit our customers,” said Bill Stone, general manager of HSUD. “We’ve faced challenges and worked through those challenges. The end goal is more reliable power service for everybody.”
Stone was joined by other HSUD superintendents, TVA personnel and North East Mississippi Electric Power Association representatives in a tour and briefing Thursday at the Holly Springs Primary Substation on Neely Avenue.
HSUD is investing $3 million for the improvements and TVA $18.5 million.
“We have a great partnership with the Holly Springs Utility Department,” said Bill Duke, customer service manager with TVA, “and this work is positioning this area for good service and growth well into the future. It’s all about our customers, and this is our best effort to serve them better.”
At the substation on Neely Avenue, TVA owns one side and HSUD the other.
TVA lines running from the New Albany, Oxford and Memphis, Tenn., areas tie together at that location.
“It works like a light switch,” said Steve Chunn, transmission service manager with TVA. “It feeds the bank.”
Improvements at the Holly Springs 161-kilovolt substation include updating multiple control relays and protection equipment to new, state-of-the art controls ($600,000). The controls will allow TVA to assume full transmission regulatory oversight responsibilities and allow HSUD to avoid future regulatory reporting requirements and their associated costs.
“It is all very intricate and technical,” said Chunn, when talking about the control system housed inside a small building at the Neely Avenue location. “We are changing out a lot of the older relays and bringing them up to speed.
“Some of this is original equipment (from like the 1950s), but that’s not uncommon, if it’s still working. We don’t change things because they’re old. We make good judgment decisions.
“The new relays will have features the old ones don’t have.”
One feature will be better pinpointing of electrical interruptions.
“If you have a fault on the line, it will tell you the phase of the fault and the distance from the substation,” Stone said.
Chunn said highly-trained technicians with TVA in Chattanooga, Tenn., will be checking the new relays constantly as part of the operation’s efficiency.
TVA will also be constructing and operating a new 161-kV capacitor bank at the Holly Springs substation on Neely ($3.6 million). It will improve voltage performance in a wide area around Holly Springs.
“Providing stable transmission voltage allows the system to operate more efficiently,” Chunn said.
Anticipated completion date is June 2019.
Recently, when the North Holly Springs Substation was down due to a fire, “things were not in normal configuration,” Stone said, and the station on Neely carried a lot more load.
“The past few weeks the power system has been in an abnormal situation, which limits our options,” Stone said. “It has been challenging.”
A new substation at Ashland and a new transmission line to Ashland will also be huge boosts for the Benton County area and Holly Springs.
A new 161-kV substation is being built adjacent to the existing Ashland 46-kV substation ($3 million).
“The new substation will have two transformers that will be able to provide growth well into the remainder of the century,” Chunn said.
A new tranmission line will connect to the new substation and provide the most reliable power delivery available to Ashland ($14.3 million).
“This will improve reliability at Ashland, as well as reduce loading and risk at the Holly Springs 161-kV substation,” Chunn said.
Anticipated completion date of the new substation and transmission line is September of this year.
“It will be a higher voltage line – a more reliable, all-steel line,” Chunn said. “And will be an increased height.
“With a new steel line and an all new substation, we certainly expect the reliability to pick up.”
Outages will happen, both Chunn and Stone pointed out, whether from tornadoes or severe thunderstorms, breaker trips, limbs falling on lines, poles down or a multitude of problems.
“There’s not a single cause,” Stone said. “We can have 10 or 12 individual outages in the field not related to one another.”
But, no doubt, the $22 million in improvements will make the local electrical system “much more reliable,” Chunn said.
HSUD services about 11,600 customers in five counties and two states. Plus, North East Electric has about 550 customers (of its 26,000 total) who are served out of the Holly Springs Primary Substation.
Fisher-Arnold Engineering (formerly Mid-South Utility Consultants) is working closely with HSUD to upgrade its side of the substation on Neely Avenue. Those improvements include updated panels, communication devices and fiber.
“HSUD is moving forward to get its side of the substation to where it needs to be so it is integrated with the TVA improvements,” said Ricky Witherspoon with Fisher-Arnold.