KNOXVILLE, Tenn., April 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of Tennessee Valley Authority employees made significant progress Friday in restoring power lines and other equipment damaged during Wednesday's severe storms and tornados.
About 4,000 TVA employees and contractors were working around the clock across areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, where thousands of customers lost electric service as a result of the severe weather. Helicopters flew over power lines in affected areas to assess damage and assist restoration efforts.
Of the 90 transmission lines originally out of service, 21 were returned to operation and power had been restored to more than half of the connections between TVA and its local power companies by Friday afternoon.
TVA estimated 561,000 homes and businesses still were without electric service in areas served by 65 local power companies.
"We thank everyone for their patience as we work to repair the more than 200 poles, steel towers and multiple transmission lines that have been damaged or destroyed," TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore said. "Based on our current assessments, we anticipate restoring service to most of the local power companies and directly served customers by early next week. However, the magnitude of damage caused by these historic storms will require a much longer period of time to completely repair."
A large portion of TVA's 500-kilovolt and 161-kilovolt lines serving north Alabama and Mississippi were knocked out Wednesday due to the storms. Additional power lines were down in Tennessee.
"We urge people to stay away from downed power lines and call their local utility or emergency officials if they see a potential hazard," Kilgore said. "Even lines that appear harmless could actually be very dangerous. Stay away from fallen lines as well as trees and other things that are in contact with power lines. Safety needs to be everyone's first priority."
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.