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TVA selects routes for 14 miles of new Bristol power lines

TVA selects routes for 14 miles of new Bristol power lines

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority has mapped out the preferred locations for just over 14 miles of new power lines it’s planning to build in the Bristol area, the company announced Monday.

TVA said in a news release that it will invest about $30 million to build the new lines in response to growing local demand for power.

“As the [Bristol] area builds out, as there’s more businesses, more homes, a greater power demand in that particular area, that will put a greater demand on the transmission system,” Malinda Hunter, who works on TVA’s public relations team, said Monday of the decision.

TVA plans to build two power lines totaling 14.2 miles. The Sullivan-South Bristol line will stretch 10.8 miles between the agency’s Sullivan 500-kV substation in Bluff City and the South Bristol substation, a new facility that Bristol Tennessee Essential Services plans to build, the release states. The latter will be between Weaver Pike and state Route 394, the statement said.

The Bluff City-South Bristol line, meanwhile, will run 3.4 miles from TVA’s 161-kV substation in Bluff City to the new South Bristol substation, the statement said.

“These preferred routes were among those proposed at a virtual open house held from Jan. 14 through Feb. 16, 2021,” the statement said. “The selected routes are expected to have the least impact on the area, based on public input from the open house and additional evaluation of other factors, including social, environmental and engineering impacts.”

Hunter said that before TVA can move forward with the project, it needs an environmental review.

The statement said the corporation also needs to obtain some new easements for the construction, operation and maintenance of the power lines.

“TVA will meet with property owners along the proposed right of way to obtain easements for construction, operation and maintenance of the lines,” the statement said. “Property owners would still own the property and be compensated for easements at fair market value.”

The statement said that TVA plans to start surveys this winter and next spring and start obtaining easements in the fall of 2022. It’s planning to start the actual construction in summer 2023 and complete the lines in spring 2024.

In the meantime, Hunter said, the area’s current power grid is still sufficient: She said TVA and BTES decided to propose the new lines based on projections of where demand will be in a few years.

“We don’t wait for it to be a problem. We look at what the challenges are coming up and where we need to build to ensure there’s continued reliability,” Hunter said. “This is how you avoid power outages and brownouts and things like that, by ensuring that you always have enough power to meet the demand for that area.” | 276-645-2511 | Twitter: @swadely

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