Significant, Complex Damage to Feeder Lines
Maryville Electric Electrical Engineering Technician, Tony Bailey reported, “The damage occurred near the substation at Old Knoxville Pike on one of the two feeder lines. There were two poles down, a bunch of tangled up wire and trees on top of wire. Unfortunately, because of the location of the damage on this line, we were unable to restore any power on that line until the mess could be cleaned up and restored.”
Cleaning up the mess included tree removal to allow access for the repairs and required waiting for emergency utility locates which must be done before utility crews are legally able to dig to restore a pole. Then, lines had to be untangled, the pole reset and line breakage repaired. “It can be a long process from start to finish in an incident like this,” said Bailey. Customers on this line experienced around a ten-hour outage while the crew worked to repair the damage.
Another outage in the Triangle Park Drive area off U.S. 321 was not reported until Sunday morning when the owner of a business in that park called in to report a pole down. Crews were dispatched to this area Sunday morning where they discovered additional significant pole and wire damage had occurred. The crews worked all day Sunday and were back Monday morning to complete the restoration.
Automated Outage Management System
The City invested in an automated outage management system in 2016 and it has been an invaluable tool during storm and outage events like this one. Bailey reported that prior to implementation, the dispatcher was unable to receive outage notifications from customers in a timely manner due to the large number of callers. “Most of the time during large outages, before the automated system was in place, you would likely get a busy signal,” Bailey said. Now, customers can call the automated line and find out if the outage has been reported; or report the outage if it has not. “They can also opt in for a return automated call when the power has been restored,” he said. “With this system, all outages are reported at the time the customer calls in and we can follow up on any calls that we cannot find by visual inspection. Additionally, our resources are able to respond to the problems that caused the outage without having additional people answering phones.”
Bailey explained, “Prior to restoring power, crews often have to travel the area where the outage is reported until they can locate the problem. Sometimes the problems are easy to find – like a downed pole. Other times, it may be more difficult. If customers see our trucks in their area, it is likely they are looking for the issue, reporting back to dispatch if they need help clearing the path or if they need additional materials and crews.
“Fortunately, events like this past weekend are rare,” said Swafford. “We know it is problematic for customers to go without power for extended periods of time and we do everything we can to restore them as soon as possible. It’s just not always an immediate process.”
City of Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor expressed his appreciation. “Thank you to all the linemen who worked throughout Saturday night and early morning Sunday to restore power throughout the system. They were back at it again at daybreak on Sunday and still have a few poles to repair today. Thanks, too, to the engineering and public works crews, highway department, police department, fire department and sheriff’s department who were also on the front lines removing obstacles and keeping the public safe. And, thanks to the customers for their understanding during this process. Most people don’t see what it takes to get power back on after a system like this. We are proud of the work these crews do - sometimes under the harshest of conditions.”