TVA selects transmission line route

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

A new 16-mile transmission line for the Tennessee Valley Authority will take a route that was the overwhelming favorite of many in Northeast Mississippi.
Last week, the TVA said the third connection between the Union and Tupelo substations would take the “northern” option, running from the 500-kilovolt Union substation near Sherman, north of County Road 251, east of Saltillo and connect to Turner Industrial Park. The existing 6.6 mile Tupelo-Turner Park transmission line would be used to complete the connection from Union to Tupelo.
About two-thirds of the route uses existing right of ways or parallels existing lines.
“We’re happy about that,” said Saltillo Mayor Bill Williams, who had supported the northern route. “The route the TVA selected was the one we preferred because it’s less destructive, and it doesn’t impact our future growth plans.”
Indeed, TVA said its preferred route was expected to have the least impact on the area, based on comments from a public meeting in September. Cost, engineering and environmental factors also were considered. TVA also used aerial photography, on-site reviews and property owners’ input in determining the best route.
A National Environmental Policy Act review awaits.
Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2015, and the line would take about a year to be built.
The TVA last fall proposed six routes linking the Union substation and the Tupelo substation in Fairpark.
The third transmission line is a proactive step to improve reliability of power transmission. If one of the two lines now in place is lost due to an overload, the second line could be overloaded as well. That would leave just about everyone without electricity. So, a third line would lessen the risk of overload.
TVA estimated the cost for the new transmission line would be $750,000 to $800,000 per mile to build.
The utility will meet with property owners along the proposed right of way to secure easements for construction, operation and maintenance of the line.
Williams said he expects those negotiations to go fairly smoothly.
“But right-of-way property owners never thing they get enough money, so we’ll see,” he said.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com