New Power Lines

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New power lines will supply GE but draw ire of city alderman

By John Howell

Power lines erected late last week along Highway 6 across Interstate 55 were part of an agreement to improve electrical infrastructure serving the GE Aviation site, Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association manager Brad Robison said.

Batesville Alderman Stan Harrison last week criticized the erection of the power line through the intersection. Since his election to fill the Ward 3 alderman post last summer, Harrison has consistently encouraged city beautification efforts, especially along the Highway 6 corridor.

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Robison said the opposition to the appearance of the electrical lines had surprised him.

“I thought people would be glad that we would have a good line serving those industries,” Robison said.

Electrical infrastructure serving areas immediately east of Interstate 55 comes through a “rural line coming through Hunter’s Trace” subdivision, the TVEPA manager said.

As part of GE’s agreement to locate its manufacturing facility in Batesville, “we had to show them a better route,” he added. The electrical line also serves Tri-Lakes Medical Center, Wal-Mart, the Civic Center among other large electricity users, he said.

Harrison and Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger both said they would have preferred placing the lines underground or locating the overhead lines away from the intersection.

Placing the lines underground would have compounded both construction costs and repair times, Robison said. TVEPA looked at routes both north and south of the Highway 6/I-55 intersection and ran into problems obtaining the necessary easements from landowners, Robison said.

Instead, the electric cooperative applied through the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s permitting process to obtain an easement.   

The underground option is “always looked at but due to cost it’s very seldom an option,” TVEPA engineer Kerry Davis said. Davis placed the cost for building the cross-interstate line at “ten times” the cost of the overhead lines.

Underground construction would have required a “six-inch bore all the way under the interstate” and ramps,” Davis added.

Robison said TVEPA “opted to go with low profile, steel poles to make it more attractive.”

“The poles look good as far as poles go,” Dugger said.