Note — The following story first appeared in the Morgan County News and was written by its editor, John “Goose” Lindsay.
RUGBY — Since its beginning in 1939, Plateau Electric Cooperative (PEC) has prided itself in providing a reliable source of electricity through Morgan and Scott County.
Thursday morning, PEC took a major step in fulfilling that promise into the future as it held a dedication ceremony to open a new Rugby Substation, which was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
“This is probably the most important thing I’ll do during my career as CEO as far as power supply for Plateau Electric Coop,” PEC CEO Dave Cross said. “This was the greatest need I saw and today we’re dedicating this substation. This is fantastic and I’m ecstatic.”
TVA invested approximately $16 million dollars into the project, which Mark Smith, Director of Transmission Planning and Asset Management, says shows TVA’s commitment to reliability.
“This will provide a more reliable power supply to Plateau Electric’s service territory,” Smith said. “There were a number of drivers for this. One was reliability. Second is the ability to provide a better backup feed for this area. The existing backup feed for this area has a lot off aging equipment.”
“People have much higher expectations today to have the power on,” Cross added. “We want the power to be on and it was important to us to improve the reliability. TVA put this kind of investment, $16 million dollars, just to improve the reliability.”
The Rugby Substation will connect to TVA’s Livingston-Huntsville 161-KV transmission line. A 7.25 mile transmission line to the existing Sunbright Substation was also added.
According to Cross, the Morgan County substations, Sunbright, Wartburg and Flat Fork, have been served from a radial feed coming out of Anderson County and the new substation will be more efficient.
“We’ve had some reliability issues there,” he said. “Whenever TVA dropped that substation, we would lose all of Morgan County and the lower part of Scott County. It would be for an extended period of time because they would have to drive from Knoxville to get the power restored to us.
“Now this will now be the primary feed coming into the Sunbright Substation. This will give us the ability to do switching all the way into Wartburg and Flat Fork as well. Our guys can do the switching instead of TVA having to come from Knoxville so it will improve the reliability and reduce the amount of the outage.”
TVA and PEC also designed the substation in a way not to detract from the beauty of the Brewstertown area of Morgan County. It was built away from Brewstertown Road.
“We’re intentional when we do out site process,” Smith said. “We want to come up with locations for equipment that minimize the impact to the community and property owners. We had an open house a few years ago and invited almost 200 folks from the area. We took input from that and that was a factor in where this was located.”
Morgan County Executive Brian Langley was one of those in attendance at Thursday’s dedication. He believes the substation will have positive effects on Morgan County.
“This is huge for Morgan County,” he said. “This will benefit the citizens of Morgan County, especially those in the northern end of the county.”
Langley hopes the new substation will spur economic development as well.
“This is something that we can offer businesses that are maybe looking here to develop,” he said. “This is part of that infrastructure you need and it will make Morgan County more attractive for them to locate.”