June 21, 2013 12:27:08 PM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Starkville's lights will go dark Sunday for the second time since May as Tennessee Valley Authority workers wrap up a project which will improve the city's power grid.
TVA will pull the plug again from 12:01 a.m. until 5 p.m. as workers install a redundant electrical source, a move Starkville officials say will help prevent future outages and also shore up infrastructure for future developments.
A similar outage was conducted May 19, allowing workers to install temporary in connections that will provide space and clearance for new switches in a main transmission area, Starkville Electric Department General Manger Terry Kemp said. Sunday, workers will turn their attention to a transmission area on the western portion of Miss. Highway 12 where the new 161,000-volt connection will be installed, he said.
In all, the project represents a $20 million investment by TVA.
"It's an exciting project. Starkville is a community that others recognize has a lot going for it right now," Mayor Parker Wiseman said of the project last month. "The fact TVA is willing to make such a substantial investment to our electric system is evidence of that recognition."
Starkville's power was restored ahead of schedule in the last operation, and Kemp said SED and TVA employees will diligently proceed with Sunday's task.
"That's a reflection of planning and preparation," Kemp said of the previous outage's timetable. "We will continue to work in that direction and hopefully bring things back on as soon as we can. This outage does involve a different type of activity, so we'll be pretty busy in the amount of time we have planned."
Kemp first briefed the city on the project and its associated outages in a March meeting. Aldermen asked Kemp to work with OCH Regional Medical Center and other area health care providers and nursing homes to ensure they're ready to meet patient needs during the blackout. Starkville Police Department is also expected to increase patrols during the project.
OCH, in cooperation with OSERVS, will provide a space in the medical center's outpatient waiting area for those who rely on power for medical equipment, hospital public relations coordinator Mary Kathryn Kight said in a release Thursday. Those wishing to use the service should arrive through the outpatient service entrance beginning at midnight.
Kemp said residents should use today and tomorrow to plan for the power outage. Cell phones should be charged up to the power outage, and residents should ensure that battery-operated flashlights and other devices are ready for use Sunday morning.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch