DENNIS SEID: Transmission project key; TVA needs your input

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

Life would be miserable without electricity. On a hot, humid, Mississippi summer day, there’s no greater relief than walking into an air-conditioned building. Whether it’s an office, restaurant, retailer or your own home, the cool air is a refreshing oasis.
Even a fan pushing air will offer some relief.
But it takes electricity to run an air conditioner or a fan.
And even though Mississippi isn’t Minnesota, it does get cold in the Magnolia State. Never mind that last winter was fairly mild. You’ll recall we had at least three significant snowfalls the previous winter.
I like my gas furnace. But it takes electricity to run it, too.
And there’s that convenience we call lights.
The pioneers and early settlers made do with lamps and candles. But we’re not living in the 18th or 19th century.
Electricity is something we take for granted. Until we don’t have any.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is proposing a new transmission line between Union County and Lee County. The line would extend from the Union substation to the Saltillo substation.
The third line is under review by TVA, which is accepting comments about the project. If you didn’t make Thursday’s meeting in Tupelo, you can submit comments by Oct. 15 to TVA either by mail or online.
Comments can be sent to Chris Austin, 1101 Market St. (MR4G), Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801 or email newtransline@tva.gov.
The biggest hang-up no doubt will be landowners, homeowners and businesses that simply don’t want a towering H-shaped steel tower on or near their property.
Property will be assessed as if all of it will be bought, then the portion of the property – which includes a permanent 100-foot right-of-way – will be paid for based on the assessment.
And yes, you can still farm under the transmission lines. You can’t build any structures or plant trees that grow more than 15 feet, however.
TVA also must follow state and federal environmental rules before choosing a route.
The project will impact property owners. How many remains to be seen.
Saltillo Mayor Bill Williams said he understands the need for the new transmission line. But he said two of the proposed routes go through dense residential areas and also sit in the middle of the city’s growth area.
He presented TVA with a resolution recommending the northern-most route.
It also happens to be the longest route, which means it could cost more.
TVA estimates the project will cost $750,000 to $800,000 per mile to construct. But construction won’t start until 2014, and the line won’t be operating until 2016.
Still, the new line is about reducing overloads and keeping power reliable.
Let’s say a catastrophic weather event knocks out one line. The second line picks up the load and in turn gets overloaded. Then nobody has electricity.
A third line would be a great option to have. It’s far better to have have one of three transmission lines down instead of one of two down.
The third line is needed. It’s up to you to let TVA know what you think.
Contact Business Editor Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.