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Taylor residents voice concerns over new substation

Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley held a public hearing in Taylor on Wednesday, to give residents an opportunity to ask questions and express their concerns about a proposed electric power substation.

Officials from MidSouth Utilities and the North East Mississippi Electric Power Association were also present.

The substation, which Presley said has been in the works for two years, will be located past the Plein Air development. Justin McCann, an engineer from MidSouth Utilities, said the initial need for the new substation stemmed from Taylor’s growing population and strain on the existing substation near the town.

“The need is driven by system capacity and reliability for North East,” McCann said. “What is occurring is that the power supply that is being provided by TVA is changing per a TVA project to convert the transmission line that runs from Oxford to Water Valley from 46 kV to 161 kV. That improvement, done by TVA and funded by TVA, is providing an opportunity for North East to improve their reliability by converting their existing Taylor 46 kV substation to a 161 kV substation.”

That improvement will not only give more capacity, but also more reliable service due to the nature of the two operating voltages, McCann said.

The present substation is served from a radial 46 kV line from Oxford. McCann explained that type of construction is relatively narrow, low, has more exposure to downed trees and typically smaller and weaker structures.

The new 161 kV transmission line, per the ones being imposed by TVA, will be a network or tied-in transmission system, as opposed to a radial system.

Richard McCoy, a resident who attended the hearing, used the forum as a chance to express his concerns about the location selection, as well as the aesthetics of the substation.

“I don’t see how they can come in here and pick out the first site that, other than it’s wide open and in the community, to be an eyesore,” McCoy said. “I understand there’s nothing to be done about it. I just wonder how come they didn’t pick another place.”

Lawrence Little, the attorney representing North East Power, said the location was chosen because it met a variety of requirements, including proximity to existing lines. Presley added that guidelines for the project will include adding landscaping and some sort of screening to conceal the substation.

Taylor resident Kathryn Daigle also expressed her concerns about the design of the substation.

“Will this look like the one down on Old Taylor Road heading to Oxford?” Daigle said.

Presley responded, saying it will be “nothing on that scale,” and compared the projected size of the new substation to that of the Taylor Post Office parking lot.

The facility on Old Taylor Road is considered a multi-voltage, multi-substation structure. The new substation is expected to be similar in size to the existing Taylor substation.

The majority of the concerns were about the structure itself, and how to best conceal it from passersby.

“Every concern I’ve heard here today is kind of centered around what it looks like, and walking out your door and seeing it,” he said. “Public participation is very important. People who live close to these types of facilities definitely should have a chance for their opinions to be on the record, and I appreciate (residents and project representatives) for taking the time to come here today.”