Blown relay knocks out West Point power

A West Point police officer directs downtown traffic while traffic signals weren't operating during Tuesday's power outage.
Staff Writer

A blown relay on a mobile transformer caused a 65-minute power outage across West Point Tuesday. But the outage didn't result in any major problems, according to city leaders.

The outage happened at 1:35 p.m. when the relay on a special relief valve at the mobile transformer blew. The transformer had been brought in as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority's major upgrades to the West Point substation. The mobile transformer is running the city's electric grid off the 4-County substation that is adjacent to the West Point facility.

Repair crews originally planned to switch the city over to the Aberdeen substation until the problem could be found. But by the time that switch could be made, crews narrowed down the relay switch and made the repair.

"We've been testing all these things for weeks to get ready for the switch over so the work can be done on the substation. But it's mechanical, you can't ever tell when something like this is going to happen," City Administrator Randy Jones said.

"It turns out it was a really simple relay. But there's no way to forecast an outage like this. If there is a good thing, it was a good test for everyone. Better now than in the peak of the summer when we have a really big electric load."

While businesses experienced some headaches and inconveniences, no major issues were reported to police or the city, Jones said.

Police officers, sheriff's deputies and other city crews manned traffic lights and busy intersections and portable four-way stop signs were put up at some locations.

The West Point Police Department was down temporarily because its back-up generator didn't come on. The problem turned out to be a dead battery and was quickly resolved.
Schools operated as normal, too.

"Those things happen. I didn't hear of any problems. I'm sure teachers adjusted whatever they were doing and kept on going," said Tim Fowler, assistant superintendent for operations.