The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

July 16, 2011

TVA electrical grid restored

— A little less than three months after the April 27 tornadoes crippled TVA’s electrical grid in North Alabama and Mississippi, all systems are now fully restored.

Earlier this week, TVA placed the last two transmission lines, both from Widows Creek Fossil Plant, back in service, according to a press release from the company.

TVA spokesman Ray Golden said the company is pleased the restoration is finished, considering officials had initially worried it could take much longer to complete the process.

“I think it’s a testament to the 4,000 TVA employees and contractors working since April 27 to fully restore the transmission system,” he said.

The effort involved restoring 108 transmission lines and required 1.4 million pounds of steel and 275 miles of wire to replace the 353 transmission structures and transmission line. The last two 500-kilovolt lines and three 161-kilovolt lines in North Alabama, were all back in service in early July.

“What (the workers) accomplished is truly amazing,” said Rob Manning, TVA executive vice president for Power System Operations. “Immediately following the tornadoes we identified the lines that could be fixed quickly and restored power to customers using these lines. In a week’s time, 95 percent of the affected customer connection points were reconnected, yet only about a quarter of the structures were repaired. After a month, 102 lines were back in service.”

All three units at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant went down April 27 after main transmission lines to the plant went down in the storm. The reactors were placed in “cold shutdown” mode and relied on power from diesel generators for five days to ensure water temperature remained cool.

Golden said Browns Ferry employees took advantage of the downtime to perform extensive maintenance on reactors.

“They should be in top shape for the summer season when we need them most,” he said.

TVA spokesperson Barbara Martocci said the total cost for the restoration project would be about $200 million. Golden said in a previous report in The News Courier that costs incurred by TVA would be passed along to utility companies and, ultimately, to customers. The six diesel generators used to keep reactors cool used about 24,000 gallons of fuel per day. The cost over a five-day period was $700,000.

Athens Utilities also incurred quite a bit of expense from the tornadoes, though 75 percent should be reimbursed through FEMA Public Assistance grants.

The department plans to turn in $614,000 in Category B expenses, which covers first responder costs, overtime and the cost of workers from other cities who helped following the storms. It will also turn in $2.4 million in Category F expenses, which covers the cost of utilities materials.

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