MLGW works to repair substation as thousands wait for power - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

MLGW works to repair substation as thousands wait for power

1,700 MLGW customers are still without power. 1,500 of them are served by the same substation that was hit hard during Tuesday's tornados

MLGW lineman hover near the top of a 150 foot power poll to reconnect power lines that were severed by tornado debris. But the source of the problem lies at the source of the power.

Substation 71 was paralyzed when flying debris disabled the system that pumps power out into to the Hickory Hill area. 
"Substations usually aren't damaged by wind storms or ice storms," MLGW president Jerry Collins said.

The 160 thousand volt power producer sits right behind the DSC warehouse where 3 people were killed Tuesday night.

"And its important for people to know this was not an atomic bomb. It didn't make the substation disappear. It was more like a grenade," MLGW substation expert Michael Russell said.

Metal shrapnel cracked insulators and damaged breakers, antennas and switches. It also sheared transmission lines, peeled back the roof of a control tower, and bent a lightning protection pole. 

Crews have been working 16 hours shifts to complete repair work that is tedious and costly.  

MLGW will have to repair and test the substation one section at a time. Some customers could get power back tonight. But, worst case scenario, it could be a week and a half before everyone's back online.
"The equipment that we have in here has to go through a lot more tests before we can energize it again," Russell said.

A dangerous task that requires rigorous safety checks and balances to prevent a bigger disaster down the line. 

MLGW let Action News 5 inside the substation because they have been hearing from people who said it does not look damaged.

They said it is difficult to recognize the damage unless you are an electricity expert.

Click here to e-mail Anna Marie Hartman.

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