Southwest EPA station move boosts ability to beat the heat

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, June 23, 2009

After a February fire knocked out a transformer at SouthwestMississippi Electric Power Company’s Brookhaven Substation onHighway 550, officials are bringing in more backup to better helpcustomers combat the scorching summer heat.

Southwest Engineering Manager Kevin Bonds said Southwestofficials have been monitoring the load on the mobile substationthat was put in after the fire earlier this year, a job that wasextra important since the transformer that was lost in the fire wasa 20 megavolt ampere (MVA) unit. The mobile unit brought in totemporarily replace it only accommodates half the capacity.

The extra eye on the system paid off when summer heatskyrocketed early and caused an increase on the loads on the units.Officials decided to take the proactive measure of putting a newmobile unit in the Loyd Star Substation, which is farther west onthe highway than the Brookhaven Substation.

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“We weren’t anticipating 99 degree temperatures this early inthe year,” Bonds said, explaining that hotter temperatures promptcustomers to turn up their air conditioners. “This is apreventative measure.”

Southwest Public Relations Director Azalea Knight said the movewill also stabilize the system once again.

“We’re doing this for reliability for our member customers,” shesaid. “We’re being proactive for our members, and the need arisesout of the fire we had, but also the unusually early heat thissummer.”

Bonds said the addition of the new mobile substation actuallybrings the local system back up to its original capacity. He saidwhile the system was able to handle working on less MVAs, it didhave some consequences.

“You had more circuits tied together to function, so when youhad outages, they’d affect more people,” he said.

And while the process has been ongoing to get the transformersfixed and back up to normal speed, Bonds said he’s been gettingfeedback on arrival times for the parts, and it looks like thepermanent fixtures won’t even arrive until possibly sometime inSeptember.

He said one of the units that was damaged is being worked on inJordan, Minn., and the other one is on site. But measures have beentaken to make sure that fully restoring permanent capacity to thesystem is done as quickly as possible, Bonds said.

“One of the factors we looked at when we did the bid process wasturnaround,” he said.

Bonds and Knight said under normal circumstances the Loyd StarSubstation covers a large portion of the west part of the countyand into Franklin County. The Brookhaven Substation covers parts ofBrookhaven, including several businesses on Brookway Boulevard.

The mobile substation will stay in Loyd Star until the powerload drops off at the end of the summer, Bonds said.