KNOXVILLE, Tenn., April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Severe weather in the area served by the Tennessee Valley Authority caused serious damage to the utility's transmission system Wednesday, with power outages and high voltage lines down in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi.
Eleven high-voltage transmission lines were out of service Wednesday afternoon and TVA crews are working to restore service. Only one local power company, Cullman Electric Cooperative in Cullman, Ala., was directly affected by the TVA transmission outage. Several other power companies sustained damage.
Additional severe weather, including high winds and possible tornados, was expected later Wednesday. Strong storms could damage transmission lines and structures and cause power outages. TVA's service region includes most of Tennessee; southwestern Kentucky; the northern areas in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia and parts of western North Carolina and southwest Virginia.
Rainfall in the western portion of the TVA service area was 4-7 inches from Tuesday to Wednesday. Eight of the nine dams on the Tennessee River were generating at full power to move water through the river system and help control flooding.
"The unusually strong storms we're experiencing have caused damage resulting in power outages," said Rob Manning, TVA executive vice president of Power System Operations, who also urged caution around damaged electrical equipment.
"Never approach power lines or transmission structures that are lying on the ground," Manning advised. "An energized power line on the ground causes electricity to fan out and anyone walking or running nearby could be electrocuted. Call your local power company to report downed power lines."
TVA maintains 16,000 miles of high voltage power transmission lines that serve 155 local power companies and 56 large industrial customers and government facilities.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia – an area of 80,000 square miles with a population of 9 million. TVA operates 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal-fired power plants, three nuclear plants and 11 natural gas-fired power facilities that can produce about 34,000 megawatts of electricity, delivered over 16,000 miles of high-voltage power lines. TVA also provides flood control, navigation, land management and recreation for the Tennessee River system and works with local utilities and state and local governments to promote economic development across the region. TVA, which makes no profits and receives no taxpayer money, is funded by sales of electricity to its customers. Electricity prices in TVA's service territory are below the national average.