HOUSTON – Residents of Houston and surrounding counties get used to receiving electricity from Natchez Trace Electric Power Association, but many may not know how far the cooperatives reach is or what their latest improvement projects are.
NTEPA General Manager Norma Kilgore, along with System Engineer Shaun Edmondson and Substation Supervisor James Pettit, gave an overview of the current projects at the Houston Exchange club Jan. 4.
Edmondson said the cooperative puts together a long-range projection study every ten years and then breaks it down into five-year increments for close evaluation.
“We estimate the demand (for electricity) and make sure we can meet that,” Edmondson said. “Then we make a construction work plan to meet the load we estimate is going to be there (different areas).”
Currently, NTEPA is working to increase delivery to areas of Pontotoc County, along Highway 8 East and in the Mantee area. They are also increasing wire size to meet growth in Calhoun County. They recently completed a substation in Vardaman to decrease the load on the Houston station.
Kilgore said many people do not realize that NTEPA serves portions of seven counties. While Chickasaw, Calhoun and Webster are the main services areas with offices in Houston, Calhoun City and Eupora, the cooperative also serves parts of Pontotoc, Yalobusha, Clay and Grenada counties with over 2,100 miles of total line. When outages come, the amount of area to canvass to find the problem and make repairs is often a factor in time needed to get the lights back on.
“I wish we didn’t have blinks and outages, but we will,” Kilgore said.
Pettit explained some of the blinks on the line are set up as safety precautions. Lights may blink once to indicate a problem that can be resolved, but if they blink three times and stay out, it’s because there is a problem that needs to be addressed by the linemen.
“When we have to go through the system to find the outage and then get to it, it takes a little time,” Kilgore said.
Pettit told club members the project to convert electric meters from man-read to digital systems that report back to the substation is coming along well. The conversion to Automatic Meter Reading began at NTEPA in 2005 and included over 16,000 meters.
The AMR process can track daily usage of each house, including peak hours, and record data for review and also gives alerts if usage is started without NTEPA permission. The alert system has cut down on meter tampering, “tremendously,” said Kilgore with Pettit agreeing.
Currently, about 1,000 meters in the coverage area are left to convert.