10 Pivotal Moments - The Changes and Events Forming the Story of Pontotoc Electric

Page 1

Pivotal_Moments-COVER.indd 1

5/18/20 4:43 PM



5/18/20 4:40 PM


FIRST TVA POLE SETTING ­­— JANUARY 22, 1934 On January 22, 1934, the Tennessee Valley Authority made Attendees of the event included Marcus Lee Shannon and its beginning in rural electrification by setting its first pole to Claude Pitner Shannon (father and son), who were both active serve rural areas in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. The event supporters of the electric cooperative. Pontotoc Electric General Manager Chuck Howell said, “The Shannons and was commemorated by a public ceremony one mile west of Pontotoc on a line that would serve the communities another gentleman named M. L. Higgs were probably the three people that had the most to do with starting Pontotoc of Springville, Randolph, and Toccopola. An article in the Electric. The Shannons Pontotoc Progress newspaper stated, “A Holiday Was also owned the local Declared and Hundreds telephone company, so Take Part in Pole-Raising they were familiar with Ceremony…Eyes of the setting poles and stringing Nation on Pontotoc County wire. Then when the idea as Pioneer in Widespread of electricity came, they Rural Electrification.” This were very much for it.” event was significant According to the Gulf, because it recognized the Mobile and Northern Railroad News (GM&N first TVA power pole in the News), Monday, January nine northeast Mississippi TVA officials who attended first pole-raising ceremony 22, 1934, “was a counties in which TVA momentous day pole construction was to the citizens of scheduled. It signaled Pontotoc and the start of rural Pontotoc County… electrification for the Pontotoc was area. proud of having To celebrate the pioneered in the setting of the first great experiment pole, Pontotoc Mayor which the TVA was T. E. Duncan declared Dr. Marcus Lee Shannon and Dr. Claude Pitner M.L. Higgs worked as a Shannon were a father and son team who were telegrapher for the railroad undertaking.” a holiday. Business both active supporters of Pontotoc Electric. at the depot at Algoma. places were closed, The original “first and the school suspended from 9:00 a.m. until noon. More TVA pole” remained in place until approximately March 1965, than 1,000 people gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. D. F. when it was replaced with a new pole to accommodate an Alexander, whose home was across the road from the pole upgrade in the electric distribution line. The replacement of site, according to newspaper accounts. The Alexanders’ front the original pole coincided with a special 30th anniversary porch was used as a speakers stand, and chairs were arranged commemoration of Pontotoc Electric Power Association. in the front yard.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 2

5/18/20 4:40 PM



The first organizational meeting for Pontotoc County Electric Power Association was held on Saturday, September 30, 1933, at the Pontotoc County Courthouse. From this meeting, Mark Lafayette Higgs was named president and Claude Pitner Shannon was named secretary.

RECEIVED CHARTER ­­— FEBRUARY 23, 1934 The Association was legally incorporated on February 23, 1934, under the laws of the State of Mississippi. The Tennessee Valley Authority had purchased the assets of the Mississippi Power Company in the counties of Alcorn, Benton, Itawamba, Lee, Prentiss, Pontotoc, Tippah, and Union Counties in northeast Mississippi for $850,743 during the first week in January 1934. Following this purchase, the Tennessee Valley Authority began to erect rural distribution lines in Pontotoc County during 1934 to the rural communities of Springville, Randolph, and Toccopola.



Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 3

At midnight between Thursday, February 28, 1935, and Friday, March 1, 1935, the Tennessee Valley Authority read a meter on a primary metering point located on State Highway 6 at the Lee-Pontotoc County line and officially transferred its interests in the electric distribution system to Pontotoc County Electric Power Association. Pontotoc County Electric Power Association became the second oldest rural electric cooperative in the United States.

5/18/20 4:40 PM

Wednesday, May 20, 1936, was an exciting day for the people of the Town of Bruce and northern Calhoun County, Mississippi. The occasion was the coming of TVA electricity to the Town of Bruce, supplied through the lines of Pontotoc Electric Power Association. The town celebrated with a picnic, which included brass bands, a parade, speakings, and dinner on the ground. Prior to this time, the E. L. Bruce Lumber Company had a generator that supplied the sawmill and several businesses and houses in the town. On February 29, 1936, Pontotoc Electric purchased the Bruce power system from the E. L. Bruce Company for $4,000. Arthur Bruce signed the transfer, which allowed the 200 power users to now receive power

from the rural electric cooperative. Pontotoc Electric continued to operate the Bruce Company steam generator until the 18 miles of power line could be constructed from the Randolph community in Pontotoc County. Many years later, on October 31, 2000, a reception was held in Pontotoc for Whitson Rodgers, Elree Bouchillon, and Jake Ivy, who were the only living remaining men who had worked on the crew that built the line from Randolph to Bruce. A resolution in their honor was presented to these three men from Glenn L. McCullough, Jr., chairman of the TVA board of directors.



The January 2001 issue of Today in Mississippi featured a photograph of Whit Rodgers and Elree “Red” Bouchillion, two of the men who built the line to Bruce in 1936.

From left, Bruce Mayor Jessie Quillen, Whit Rodgers, Sandra Clark (representing her uncle, Jake Ivy), TVA Director Glenn McCullough and Elree “Red” Bouchillon display certificates of appreciation.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 4

5/18/20 4:40 PM



Pontotoc Electric Power Association commenced business operations in a two-story building on the northeast corner of Liberty Street and Marion Street in Pontotoc. The building also had a partial basement. The present-day photo was taken after the building had been remodeled in 2005.

northeast corner of Main Street and Jefferson Street. According to the article published in the Pontotoc Progress newspaper on January 19, 1950, “The remodeling job includes a year-round heating and air conditioning system, partitioning of office space, engineering and drafting room, meter 1950 PONTOTOC OFFICE laboratory, vault for storage of records, auditorium for seating On Thursday, January 12, 1950, a contract was awarded to J. E. about 45 people, appliance demonstration room, completely Staub and Company of Fulton, Mississippi for the remodeling of changing the west and south sides into glass exteriors with the old Pontotoc Wholesale Grocery Company building for a new canopy all around, new flooring, walls, etc., to make the building office for Pontotoc Electric Power Association, located on the one of the most modern in the state.� PIVOTAL MOMENTS | PAGE 4

Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 5

5/18/20 4:41 PM

As soon as Pontotoc Electric came to Bruce, an office was opened where bills could be paid and crews could work from. The office was first located in a building on the west


In 1953, a lot was purchased and a new office was built on the east side of South Newberger Street. The contract for the 2,400-square-foot brick building was awarded to Luckett Lumber Company of Grenada, Mississippi. The front of the


In October 1975, a new 15,000-square-foot warehouse and operations center was completed on Highway 41, southeast of Pontotoc. An additional 5,000-square-foot truck parking

side of the town square. It was later relocated to South Newberger Street at the former location of Verlon McKibben’s beauty salon.


Bruce office was completely remodeled in 2005. Employees had been up most of the night dealing with the power outages caused by Hurricane Katrina but were far enough along with power restoration to have the open house as scheduled.


bay was also part of the facility. In 1983, a new warehouse facility was built in Bruce.


In 1988, the office building in downtown Pontotoc was renovated with additional office space, and a conference room was built for use by the Association and non-profit community organizations. In 2009, the renovation of an adjoining building was completed to provide for additional office space and storage

space for records at the Pontotoc headquarters office. In June 2015, the former Logan Pharmacy building was purchased to create a new Pontotoc Electric Bruce district business office at 129 South Newberger Street, which was next door to the former business office. PIVOTAL MOMENTS | PAGE 5

Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 6

5/18/20 4:41 PM





Ice Storm of 1951 – On Monday night, January 29, 1951, a devastating ice storm hit Pontotoc Electric’s power system and caused power outages and downed lines everywhere. Superintendent J. C. Sneed, Jr. announced in the local newspaper that he needed 150 workmen with saws and axes to clear the lines and that considerable damage was caused at the TVA substation in Pontotoc. Restoring power to some customers took 15 days. This weather event was referred to as The Great Ice Storm of 1951. It affected all of north Mississippi, the upper corner of northwest Alabama, almost all of west and middle Tennessee, nearly all of Kentucky, and part of southern Ohio. Following the storm, the area was covered by several inches of snow. To make matters worse, record cold temperatures came in the days that followed, and travel was very difficult. One difference in the 1951 ice storm and those in later years was that most people affected by the 1951 ice storm remembered a time before they had electricity, so they were more accustomed to living without the conveniences that electricity provided.

Electric customers, and to every circuit except one on the entire power system. The following Monday, an estimated 3,000 customers were still without power, although power had been restored to almost all critical loads, which included hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and factories. It took up to 10 days to restore power to all customers whose electrical facilities could receive power. After the 10-day period, some customers still had their meter bases torn from their walls and were still waiting on electricians to repair their damage. As these repairs were made, Pontotoc Electric was busy sending service crews to reconnect these customers and restore their power. During the 13th and 14th days following the storm, one-half of Pontotoc Electric’s crews were sent to assist the New Albany electric system and one-half were sent to assist Prentiss County Electric Power Association’s recovery, while a skeleton crew stayed around Pontotoc for continued service connections. From the 15th to the 28th days following the storm, almost all of the line crew assisted Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association with their recovery efforts, working mostly west of Batesville in the Chapel Town Road and Curtis Station communities. An article in the local newspaper described the storm to be the worst winter storm to hit north Mississippi in 43 years.

Ice Storm of 1973 – Shortly after noon on Sunday, January 7, 1973, an ice storm hit Pontotoc Electric’s service territory, and by mid-afternoon practically a complete total power outage had occurred. Electric service was restored to approximately 75 percent of all customers by late Monday afternoon and to 90 percent by Tuesday afternoon. Ice Storm of 1994 – On Wednesday night, February 9, 1994, a devastating ice storm swept across north Mississippi and knocked out electrical service to more than 15,000 Pontotoc PIVOTAL MOMENTS | PAGE 6

Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 7


5/18/20 4:41 PM

HURRICANES Pontotoc Electric employee Don Patterson (now retired) surveys Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005.

Bucket truck, Hurricane Katrina restoration

Hurricane Katrina – Although it was much less severe than in most of Mississippi, Pontotoc Electric did not escape the damaging effects of Hurricane Katrina on Monday, August 29, 2005. The hurricane had weakened in intensity by the time it reached North Mississippi, but it was still classified as a Category one Hurricane as it passed across Pontotoc Electric’s power system. Winds from the hurricane began to

Pontotoc crew helps Coast Electric after Huricane Katrina

cause damage around 5:00 p.m. and appeared to be at their worst around 8:30 p.m. that Monday evening. By midnight, the damaging winds had subsided. Restoration from Hurricane Katrina on Pontotoc Electric’s system was completed by Thursday morning, September 1, 2005, and Pontotoc Electric began sending assistance to other power systems who were still recovering.

TORNADOES Pontotoc Tornado 2001 – On Saturday night, February 24, 2001, at approximately 10:00 p.m., an F4 tornado caused major damage over a path 23 miles long in Pontotoc County, causing considerable damage to Pontotoc Electric’s power system. With the help of several neighboring cooperative and municipal power system crews, and having tie lines in place that allowed portions of the power system to be fed from alternate substations, nearly all customers that could receive power had their electric service restored in no more than three days. However, it took several weeks to restore the power system from the damage caused by this tornado.



Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 8

5/18/20 4:41 PM

PIVOTAL MOMENT 5 CONTINUED Snowstorm 2015 – On Wednesday evening, February 25, 2015, an intense snowstorm dropped approximately five inches of wet snow upon Pontotoc County and up to 12 inches of snow on portions of Calhoun County. The wet snow later froze on tree limbs and power lines, resulting in ice accumulation that caused many power outages. The power outages in Pontotoc County started around 5:00 p.m., resulting in 593 customers without power. However, by 10:00 p.m., most Pontotoc County customers’ power had been restored. In the Bruce District, the outages started at 6:49 p.m. when a tree fell across the Tennessee Valley Authority’s 69-kV transmission line that serves the Bruce 69-kV Substation, thus knocking out the entire substation. At the peak of the outage, there

were 2,925 customers in Calhoun County, 46 customers in Chickasaw County, and 75 customers in Lafayette County without power. The power to most of these customers was restored before midnight by transferring these customers to the Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation by means of loop feeds within the power system. Most of the remaining customers had their power restored at approximately 4:30 a.m. following TVA’s restoration of the transmission line serving the Bruce 69-kV Substation. Several singlephase taps and individual customers in Calhoun County were without power during the daytime hours on Thursday, February 26, 2015, but all customers had their power restored before dark.

Tropical Storm Olga 2019 – On Saturday morning, October 26, 2019, beginning at approximately 11:40 a.m., the remnants of Tropical Storm Olga caused significant damage to Pontotoc Electric’s power system. Multiple wind gusts of 50 to 70 miles per hour occurred for nearly 45 minutes as Olga moved in a north-northeasterly track through northeast Mississippi. During the peak of this outage a total of 8,995 customers were without power in Pontotoc County and 537 customers were without power in Calhoun County. Nearly all the damage to the power system was caused by trees and limbs falling on the power lines. This storm resulted in 31 broken primary poles and 19 broken secondary

poles. The majority of the damage occurred on the eastern side of Pontotoc County. By 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 29, power had been restored to all customers capable of receiving power. During this same period, and completely unrelated to Tropical Storm Olga, on Sunday, October 27, 2019, a squirrel caused an electrical short circuit on a capacitor bank inside the Pontotoc Substation which resulted in a complete substation outage. This power outage lasted from 8:31 a.m. to 9:13 a.m. and resulted in 5,468 customers without power during this period.

Wires lie on the ground near portions of a tree that was damaged during Tropical Storm Olga.

A broken pole stands next to its replacement as part of the reconstruction work after Tropical Storm Olga.

Pontotoc Electric crews work to finish replacing a pole and stringing power lines after Tropical Storm Olga.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 9

5/18/20 4:41 PM


PARTNER MAPPING SYSTEM INTRODUCED Power System Operations Engineer Jenna Kentner shows students how the Partner Software mapping system allows Pontotoc Electric to isolate areas where outages exist. The mapping system helps Pontotoc Electric more quickly resolve outage problems.,

At Pontotoc Electric, one valuable piece of information for performance, maintenance, and even emergencies with the power system is a map of the service territory. In addition to the territory served, the map contains locations of power lines, poles, and all equipment needed for the power system to function properly. In years past, Pontotoc Electric’s map consisted of several different hand-drawn maps on single sheets of paper. Sometimes these were drawn to a particular scale and sometimes they were not. With a ruler, engineering stencils, pencils, and a lot of time, sections of the service territory were eventually mapped. The notation at the bottom of each sheet contained information about where the particular section was located. Switches, voltage regulators, and other equipment were noted as well. Since computer-aided drafting technology had not yet been developed, it was difficult to keep the maps up to date. By the time one section of the map was completed, it wasn’t long before it became outdated because a customer had relocated, a pole had been changed, or a transformer was added. With the change of technology in warp speed, Pontotoc Electric jumped on board to Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping. This provides a computer-based environment for precise mapping and displaying of infrastructure relative to other mapped features. UtiliTrak is the GIS mapping program that Pontotoc Electric is currently using. UtiliTrak not only provides a screen shot of our system, it also provides us with a model of the network. This allows for a variety of analyses to be performed within UtiliTrak. In September 2007, Pontotoc Electric hired Jenna Kentner to oversee the GIS mapping system. Kentner had previously worked for utility billing company Central Service Association (CSA) for three years, and during that time had acquired an excellent grasp of the geographic information system and power system mapping. While at CSA, Kentner was the lead person in establishing computerized mapping systems for electric systems within the Tennessee Valley area. Therefore, she did not have to be trained to set up a mapping system because while at CSA she had set up GIS-based mapping systems at several other utilities and had trained their personnel on how to use them. Kentner had obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering prior to working for CSA. The combination of her education and experience brought expertise to the project and allowed us to move forward at a rapid pace.

Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 10

Pontotoc Electric’s system consists of approximately 49.000 poles, 1,600 miles of power line, and 19,000 meters. That’s a lot of infrastructure to physically map! On Kentner’s recommendation, Pontotoc Electric contracted this massive undertaking with Chris Latch, an individual GIS contractor, to get the electronic system up and running. Latch worked from January 2011 to May 2014 to complete the initial system. Not only was Latch mapping the infrastructure, he was also checking for bad poles and making pictures of every pole. As Latch was physically mapping the system, changes were constantly being made at Pontotoc Electric — new members being added, poles being changed, new power lines being added, and other changes. Pontotoc Electric needed a way to maintain this now “live GIS system.” We needed a dedicated individual to handle this, and Steve Martin was chosen for the job. Martin began his career at Pontotoc Electric on January 11, 1988. He worked as a meter reader for two years before transferring to the line crew where he dedicated 24 years. In May 2014, Martin transitioned into the engineering department as the GIS mapping technician, a role he continues to fill today. His responsibilities include updating and maintaining the GIS mapping system. Martin also keeps Pontotoc Electric’s photo catalog of equipment and poles current. Pontotoc Electric now has a platform for allowing our employees to utilize the mapping infrastructure. Partner Software offers a mobile view of the system. This means our employees can utilize the GIS system via smart phones, tablets, and even desktop views without connection to the mapping server. This gives them ample data at their hands to minimize outages and to address customer needs much more efficiently. Pontotoc Electric’s future plans will consist of integrating job staking with UtiliTrak now that the computerized system map is complete. This will enhance all areas of the company in relation to new services. We also envision deploying mobile service orders and outage management. Pontotoc Electric has come a long way with its mapping system. From pencils and stencils to computers and handheld devices, these past 85 years have made a huge transformation. We can only imagine what changes will occur in the next 85 years. PIVOTAL MOMENTS | PAGE 9

5/18/20 4:41 PM


ESTABLISHED IN-HOUSE RIGHT-OF-WAY PROGRAM Pontotoc Electric has a responsibility to maintain the electric system in such a way that reliable electric service is safely and consistently provided to everyone on our power system. Trees are a beautiful asset to the service area, but our power line right-of-way must be maintained to prevent power outages. Hospitals, schools, businesses, factories, customers on life support, traffic signals, and other utilities all depend on a constant electric supply. Residential customers desire to have service where interruptions are few and far between. One of the most important ways of ensuring reliable electrical service is having a proper rightof-way trimming program. High winds and storms can cause trees, limbs and other vegetation to come in contact with energized conductors, causing a direct path for the electricity to flow to the earth ground. This in turn will cause a momentary or complete loss of power. These occurrences may cause circuit breakers intended to protect the power line from short circuits to trip, Right-of-Way Trimmer/Laborer Stephen causing a loss of power Stalnaker pauses for a photograph before to the main line. continuing his workon the mulcher. High winds and storms can also cause trees to fall across a power line, thus breaking the line or the pole. Heavy rainfall can cause the ground at the base of the tree to become soft, thus allowing the tree to fall during heavy winds. Small animals, such as squirrels, can make contact between energized conductors and grounded objects and cause an outage. All right-of-way and animal-caused outages cannot be prevented, but a well-maintained power line right-of-way can certainly minimize outages and allow the restoration process to work much better. Pontotoc Electric has always maintained a program for trimming our rights-of-way, and some times more aggressively than at other times. The “Great Ice Storm of

1994” that began on the evening of February 9, 1994, was a great awakening for the need to trim trees back several feet away from the power lines. This particular ice storm vastly changed the local public’s perception for the need to trim trees and remove dangerous trees. A much more aggressive right-of-way trimming program followed the February 1994 Ice Storm and paid for itself less than five years later. Although the “Christmas Ice Storm of 1998,” which began on December 23, 1998, had less ice accumulation, the restoration process took much less time. Also, of Pontotoc Electric’s then 15,500 total meters, approximately 10,400 never experienced any power outage, not even a blink. At the peak of the outage on Wednesday night, December 23, 1998, there were 5,080 power outages. By noon Thursday, only 2,800 were without power. By noon Friday, Christmas Day, only 1,080 were without power, and by 7:00 a.m. Saturday, there were only 103 meters without power. Much of this rapid response can be attributed to the aggressive right-of-way trimming program following the Great Ice Storm of 1994. Right-of-way employees use the bucket truck to cut sections of a tall tree. Limbs are removed, and the tree is cut into sections that can then be cut into smaller portions once they are on the ground.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 11

5/18/20 4:41 PM

For many years, Pontotoc Electric utilized the services employees were hired for the new in-house right-of way of outside contractors for our right-of-way trimming needs. crew. Since bringing the right-of-way program in-house, the However, in March 2018, the board of crews have trimmed out the Furrs and directors brought the three-man ‘cusZion circuits fed from the Bankhead tomer-request ticket’ trimming crew in Substation, the Veterans East circuit house with the hiring of three right-offed from the Pontotoc Substation, and way employees. By September 2018, the Agri-center circuit fed from the the board began seriously considering McGregor’s Chapel Substation. In bringing the entire right-of-way trimFebruary 2020, they began working on ming program in-house. This included the Sarepta circuit fed from the Bruce getting bids on the necessary equipment 69-kV Substation. Also, numerous needed for the right-of-way program, trees have been trimmed or removed Right-of-way Trimmer/Laborer Aamil Franklin which included a Jarraff tree trimming by the three-man ticket crew. As loads limbs into the chipper as the crew cleans up a job site. machine, a mulching mower, two a result of the diligent work of the additional bucket trucks, two commercial brush chippers, two right-of-way program, the number of outages caused by dump trucks, and a service truck. These pieces of equipment right-of-way issues has gone down substantially. began to be purchased in November 2018 and additional



Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 12

5/18/20 4:41 PM



In March 1991, Pontotoc Electric published its first local pages in the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi’s statewide publication, Today in Mississippi. The content included an article by then General Manager Bill Jackson (now deceased), information on deferring loans to servicemen for the residential program through TVA, and an article on the importance of trimming trees on the power system. At the time the first issue was published, Jackson said, “PEPA is beginning this service to its members for several reasons. Among them is the fact that it is our responsibility to inform our members of issues and events, policies, rate matters, rules and regulations, conservation practices, marketing information, meetings, and other matters of real interest to them. Providing Today in Mississippi is probably the best way to inform our members. A well-informed and accurately-informed

membership will have greater trust in and support for the Association, including its officers, directors, management, and employees.” Over the past 29 years, Pontotoc Electric has continued to bring its members information about power system upgrades, features about the employees who work hard every day to keep things running smoothly, fun recipes, special event information, and other items of interest. Beginning with the September 2019 issue, Today in Mississippi converted to a magazine format, and the changes have been well received by members. The glossy, dynamic pages and updated look are attractive to readers and help us reach a new generation of Today in Mississippi readers. The publication is also available in an online edition for readers who prefer an electronic format.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 13

5/18/20 4:41 PM



Pontotoc Electric Historical at the corner of Main and Reynolds Streets. The Museum established 1,600 square-foot building houses two stories of Pontotoc Electric General Manager artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs as far back Chuck Howell is proud of Pontotoc as the 1930s. Electric’s place in history as the second Several items are on loan to the Pontotoc oldest rural electric cooperative in the Electric Historical Museum, including a large United States. In fact, he takes such number of insulators that are owned by William pride in the company, he’s created a Lee Bramlett of Pontotoc. Bramlett is a Vietnam historical museum honoring the efforts veteran who worked for the television cable Most visitors to the Pontotoc Electric Historical of those who were instrumental in starting industry and added to his collection over the years. Museum enjoy taking a look at the permanent Pontotoc Electric and those who Howell enjoys welcoming visitors into the wave machine, a large piece of equipment that was used as a ladies hair curling device.. have worked tirelessly in the years since. museum to explain the significance of the Howell had a dream to create something items on the walls and shelves. As a registered that would allow employees, directors, land surveryor himself, Howell said his favorite students, civic clubs, and others in the piece on display is the 1896 surveyor’s transit, a public to learn more about the rural surveying instrument which he has actually used electrification work that led to the on many occasions to survey the location for the widespread distribution of electric power Association’s power lines. Most visitors, however, for small communities like Pontotoc. seem to enjoy taking a look at the permanent Howell said he had seen other museums wave machine, a large piece of equipment that put into place by the Tennessee Valley was used as a ladies hair curling device. Right Authority: Tombigbee Electric now, the museum is home to almost 800 different of Hamilton, Alabama: and Jackson photographs, tools, and even appliances. Howell This transit, a surveying instrument, is General Energy Authority in Jackson, Tennessee. said they plan to expand that number in the future. Manager Chuck Howell’s favorite piece on display at the museum. Howell used the instrument many “We’re hoping to expand a TVA Demonstration “I was impressed by what I saw.” times to stake out power lines for the Association. Knowing the company had a number of Kitchen much like those of the past so visitors different artifacts that could be used to teach students or provide will be able to see how food was prepared and served years ago. a glimpse into the past, Howell decided to work toward bringing It’s exciting to see how much electricity has helped our homes and everything together under one roof. “We had a lot of old collectibles families.” that were too historical and sentimental to the Association to be On November 7, 2018, General Manager Chuck Howell, Pontotoc discarded. These items were being stored in various storage areas Electric board members, a group of Pontotoc Electric retirees, and in the Association’s buidings. We had kept many items stored in several Pontotoc Electric employees cut the ribbon on the new our offices and would bring them out for display for various schools Pontotoc Electric Historical Museum. Since that time, guests have and other groups, but the museum allowed us to have a customized been taken back in time to share the history of electricity coming to location for a permanent display.” our area and how it has greatly enhanced our lives since that time. The museum is located in the former Mechanics Insurance building PIVOTAL MOMENTS | PAGE 13

Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 14

5/18/20 4:41 PM

Pontotoc Electric historical marker placed at 12 South Main Street In 2019, Pontotoc Electric Power Association was approved for a historical marker through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Since 1949, these markers have been placed to commemorate significant people, places, and events in Mississippi. Pontotoc Electric’s marker is one of approximately 900 in the state. Sometime during the late summer of 2018, Pontotoc Electric General Manager Chuck Howell received a telephone call from Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley about the possibility of applying for a historical marker from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Commissioner Presley said that he envisioned as many as five historical markers commemorating the history of the rural electrification effort in Northeast Mississippi from 1934 through 1936. Howell then became very interested in Pontotoc Electric and others receiving these special historic markers if at all possible. On Friday afternoon, October 26, 2018, a meeting was held at Commissioner Presley’s Nettleton office and was attended by the general managers of Alcorn County Electric Power Association, Monroe County Electric Power Association, Pontotoc Electric Power Association, Prentiss County Electric Power Association, two representatives of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Commissioner Presley, and selected PSC Staff members. The representatives of the MDAH outlined the requirements for receiving a historical marker and the process for submitting an application and the necessary supporting historical documentation required. The MDAH officials also informed those attending that the MDAH Board would only grant approval for these markers if proper documentation could be submitted to prove the historical significance. The MDAH officials then discussed the board’s approval process for the wording of the markers and the ordering

process. All persons attending the meeting were interested in obtaining a historic marker. The MDAH officials were informed of the possibility of requesting five historical markers to be located in northeast Mississippi. These makers would be one at Alcorn County Electric Power Association for being the first rural electric cooperative in the United States, Pontotoc Electric Power Association for being the second, Prentiss County Electric Power Association for being the third, Monroe County Electric Power Association for being the first rural electric cooperative in the United States to receive funding from the newly formed Rural Electrification Administration in 1936, and the Tennessee Valley Authority commemorating the first TVA electric pole set in Mississippi located southwest of Pontotoc on January 22, 1934. The meeting was very positive and looked promising that the MDAH would be supportive of these historical markers. The Pontotoc Electric Power Association marker was ordered from Seweh Studios of Marietta, Ohio on Monday, May 20, 2019. The marker was picked up from the Mississippi Department of Transportation District Office in Tupelo on Thursday afternoon, August 8, 2019. The marker was installed near the front door of the Pontotoc Electric Power Association Office at 12 South Main Street in Pontotoc on Friday morning, August 9, 2019.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 15

5/18/20 4:41 PM



Pontotoc 161-kV Substation The Pontotoc 161-kV Substation is located at 174 Highway 15 Bypass in Pontotoc, Mississippi, and also has an address of 173 Inzer Street, since it is located between these two streets. This substation was first constructed as a 44kV substation in late 1937. The transformer capacity was increased in May 1947. The substation was completely reworked by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1963. The substation was energized at 161-kV with two new transformers rated at 26,667 / 30,000 / 33,333 kVA OA / FA / FOA units. The existing station contains a 35,000 kVA 32-step voltage regulator and 12 circuit breakers supplying the distribution feeder lines. In 1978, Pontotoc Electric purchased the Pontotoc 161-kV Substation from the Tennessee Valley Authority. This purchase marked the beginning of Pontotoc Electric owning our substations

Bruce 69-kV Substation The Bruce 69-kV Substation is located at 120 Highway 32 East inside the city limits of Bruce, Mississippi. The Bruce 69kV Substation was originally constructed as a 44-kV substation in late 1947 and early 1948 following TVA’s extension of a 44-kV transmission line from Houston, Mississippi to Calhoun City, Mississippi by way of Bruce. In 1974, the Bruce Substation was rebuilt with two new 10,000 / 13,333 / 16,667 kVA power transformers which had a dual primary voltage rating of both 46-kV and 69-kV, to accommodate the recently completed TVA 161-kV :46 / 69-kV primary transmission substation located northeast of Calhoun City, Mississippi. These two transformers at the Bruce Substation were both energized and operated in parallel all the time. Pontotoc Electric purchased the Bruce 69-kV Substation from TVA in 1982. Additional feeder circuit breakers were also added to the Bruce Substation due to additional load growth in Bruce and northern Calhoun County.


and brought new challenges with our own technicians and engineers being responsible for the operation, testing and maintenance of the substation equipment. The Pontotoc 161kV Substation reached its peak load of 40,706 kW on August 3, 2010. The Pontotoc Substation serves most of the City of Pontotoc, the north and east Pontotoc industrial parks, Highway 15 South to eastern Algoma, Highway 41 South past the Troy Community, Veterans Highway East to Bankhead, Highway 9 North to Endville, Highway 345 to Cherry Creek, and Highway 15 North to Ashley Furniture on the south side of Ecru.

In the early 1980s, the primary voltage of the Bruce Substation was upgraded to 69-kV and the substation was fed entirely from the Calhoun City primary Substation, since the loop feed available from the Okolona, Mississippi Substation only had a 46-kV capability.



Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 16

5/18/20 4:41 PM


On a hot day in the spring of 1995, the Bruce 69-kV Substation experienced a failure of a bushing on one of the substation transformers, which rendered it inoperable for a few days and leaving only the remaining transformer to serve the load at Bruce and northern Calhoun County during this time. This operating transformer was sprayed with a mist of water during the time of its singular operation because the load that it was carrying exceeded the rated capacity of the transformer. In June of 1995, Pontotoc Electric installed a third transformer of the same size as the other two transformers. The substation has operated since that time with the remaining transformer and the new transformer energized with both transformers operating in parallel. The transformer that experienced the bushing failure was repaired and tested, and has remained de-energized as a spare.

The Bruce 69-kV Substation reached its peak load of 22,031 kW on January 6, 2010. Although the winter of 2010 was the highest load in recent years, the Bruce Substation is usually a summer peaking substation. The maximum summer peak load occurred on July 25, 2005 at 21,191 kW. After the construction of the Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation in 2013, the loads on the Bruce 69-kV Substation are now less than half of its former loading. The entire Calhoun County portion of Pontotoc Electric’s service territory is fortunate that either the Bruce 69-kV Substation or the Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation on their own can supply the load if needed in the event of an outage of either substation. The loop feeds between the two substations also facilitate line maintenance with greater system reliability.

Ecru 46-kV Substation The Ecru 46-kV Substation is located in Pontotoc County at 2234 Old Highway 15 North at the northern city limits of Ecru, Mississippi, and the substation property adjoins the PontotocUnion County line. This substation was first constructed by TVA as a 46-kV substation in 1968 in order to relieve loading and voltage drop problems in northern Pontotoc County and southern Union County. The transformer capacity was originally 10,000 kVA and consisted of three 3,333 kVA single-phase transformers, plus a spare. The substation originally had two feeder circuit breakers labeled ‘Ecru’ and ‘Ingomar.’ The Ecru Substation was purchased from TVA by Pontotoc Electric in 1978. As the load on the Ecru Substation grew, it became necessary to increase the size of the transformer bank. In the 1980s the transformers were changed to three used 5,000 kVA units with a 5,000 kVA spare. The transformers were equipped with cooling fans to provide one additional level of transformer capacity, with 6,667 kVA each using forced

air cooling. The original primary protection was provided by 46-kV link fuses, but during the 1980’s, a 46-kV circuit switcher with a relaying package was installed to provide more comprehensive protection to the transformer bank and the feeder breakers. A substation-type three-phase voltage regulator was added in the 1990s, as well as three additional feeder circuit breakers. The Ecru 46-kV Substation reached a peak load in the late 1990s at approximately 17.5 megawatts. In order to relieve some of the load on the Ecru Substation, a portion of some of the circuits were transferred to the new McGregor’s Chapel Substation. Following this load transfer, the Ecru 46-kV Substation reached its peak load of 16,940 kW on August 15, 2007. On Friday, September 1, 2000, at approximately 1:00 p.m., a 46-kV bushing on the C-phase transformer failed. The spare transformer was placed in service that afternoon, and a search began to find a replacement bushing. Only five days later on Wednesday, September 6, 2000, at approximately


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 17

5/18/20 4:41 PM


4:30 a.m., a 46-kV bushing on the spare transformer, which is now the operating transformer on C-phase, failed. The Ecru Substation load was switched to other substations, and the bushing was replaced with a bushing from another transformer that was owned by Pontotoc Electric. The bushing was replaced, and the oncespare-transformer was placed back in service before 10:00 that same morning. A replacement bushing was later secured for this transformer and thus placed back in service. Due to this unexpected failure of these two primary bushings and the vulnerability that a utility is placed under when they are operating on the spare transformer, it was decided to install an additional entire spare transformer bank at the site. These transformers were added to the west side of the existing transformer bay to facilitate a quick recovery in the event of a

Bankhead 161-kV Substation The Bankhead 161-kV Substation, located at 45 Nanney Road, Pontotoc, Mississippi, was placed in service in September 1982. This distribution substation was first constructed by Pontotoc Electric as a 161:24.94-kV substation in order to relieve loading and voltage drop problems in eastern Pontotoc County. The transformer capacity consisted of two 15,000 / 20,000 / 25,000 kVA, OA / FA / FA, three-phase units, one of which was intended as an operating unit and one as a spare. The substation originally had two feeder circuit breakers labeled ‘Longview’ and ‘Furrs’, along with one spare feeder circuit breaker. Later, the ‘Furrs’ circuit was split with the addition of another

transformer failure on the main transformer bay. The spare bank can easily be placed in service if needed, but has remained de-energized since their installation, except for testing purposes. Ashley Furniture, the largest employer in Pontotoc County, which has a combined load of approximately 3.2 megawatts, is located three miles south of the Ecru 46-kV Substation. Ashley Furniture was fed from the Ecru Substation through 2007. Due to several substation outages around 2007, some of which were caused by problems at the Ecru Substation and some at the TVAowned New Albany Primary Substation, it was decided by Pontotoc Electric to serve Ashley Furniture from the Pontotoc Substation. The Ecru Substation continues to remain as a backup for the Ashley Furniture load.

circuit breaker labeled ‘Zion.’ The primary protection for the substation was originally provided by two 161-kV circuit switchers, with one for each transformer. In 2010, a single 161-kV circuit switcher was installed on the source side of the two existing circuit switchers by a requirement of TVA for redundancy in the primary protection. This redundant circuit switcher would help provide greater reliability for TVA’s Union to McGregor’s Chapel 161-kV transmission line, which also supplies the Toyota vehicle assembly plant at Blue Springs, Mississippi. Feeder voltage regulation is provided by single-phase voltage regulators located inside the substation on the load side of each feeder circuit breaker.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 18

5/18/20 4:41 PM


Only 45 days after the substation was energized, the east transformer experienced a failure of the B-phase secondary winding. The transformer was sent to the factory in Goldsboro, North Carolina for repair and was returned and placed in service in January 1983. Neither substation transformer at the Bankhead Substation has experienced any serious problems since that time. However, when a substation experiences a failure of the operating transformer and is operating on the spare transformer, the utility personnel have increased awareness of how serious it is for the only remaining

transformer in the substation to remain trouble free, especially when the particular substation is of a different distribution voltage than all of the other substations. The Bankhead 161-kV Substation reached its peak load of 13,036 kW on January 17, 2018, during an extremely cold weather period. The Bankhead Substation tends to be a winter peaking substation. Unlike Pontotoc Electric’s other four substations, the Bankhead Substation is primarily composed of residential loads, with very little commercial or industrial loads.

McGregor’s Chapel 161-kV Substation The McGregor’s Chapel 161-kV Substation, located at 4303 Veterans Highway West, Pontotoc, Mississippi, was placed in service in the summer of 1998. A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the McGregor’s Chapel Substation on Tuesday, November 17, 1998. The distribution substation is located on the north side of a TVA switching station, also known as McGregor’s Chapel. Both TVA’s portion and Pontotoc Electric’s portion of the substation are located inside the same fence. TVA’s portion of the substation consists of two incoming 161-kV transmission lines, two 161-kV transmission line circuit switchers, and one 161-kV capacitor bank circuit switcher. One 161-kV transmission line enters the substation from the east and feeds from the TVA Union 500-kV Substation, with the

Toyota Substation, the Bankhead Substation, and the Pontotoc Substation served along the SUBSTATION route. The other 161-kV transmission BANKHEAD FROM NANNEY ROAD line enters the substation from the west and feeds from the Oxford Substation, with the Southeast Oxford Substation and the Lafayette Springs Substation served along the route. Pontotoc Electric’s McGregor’s Chapel distribution substation is served from the end of the 161-kV transfer bus of the TVA McGregor’s Chapel Substation. The TVA portion of the substation also has a 161-kV switched static capacitor bank used for voltage correction and reactive supply. The TVA McGregor’s Chapel Substation has supervisory control capability from TVA’s Operations Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee by means of TVA’s fiber optic system, and the substation has complete local relaying protection, housed in a large climate-conditioned control house.


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 19

5/18/20 4:41 PM

Pontotoc Electric’s portion of the McGregor’s Chapel Substation consists of two 161-kV circuit switchers; two 161 : 12.47-kV, 20 / 26.7 / 33.3 MVA, OA / FA / FA, three-phase substation transformers; two three-phase voltage regulators, and eight 12.5 kV feeder breaker bays occupied with eight 1200 ampere vacuum circuit breakers. The substation also has a concrete pad in place for one additional substation transformer

with the 161-kV bus work and the 12.5- kV bus work already in place to this spare transformer bay. The McGregor’s Chapel 161-kV Substation reached its peak load of 25,369 kW on August 4, 2010, which is 77 percent of the firm capacity of the substation. The peak winter load occurred on January 8, 2010, at 23,995 kW.

From left: Chuck Howell, PEPA General Manager; Ebb Loden, TVA Mississippi District Superintendent; Jim Byerly, R.W. Beck Engineers; Bill Jackson, PEPA Retired General Manager; Billy Neal Simmons, Pontotoc County Supervisor; Bill Rutledge, Mayor of Pontotoc; Nickey Browning, Mississippi State Senator


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 20

Board of Directors at Substation Dedication. From left: Kenneth Helms, Larry Parker, Richard Watkins, Truman Young, Ray Leeper, Rev. David High, and Norris “Sonny” Faulkner, Jr.


5/18/20 4:41 PM

Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation The Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation is located at 450 South Pontotoc Road (also State Highway 9 South) inside the city limits of the Town of Bruce in northern Calhoun County, Mississippi. The substation site is located approximately 0.6 mile south of the intersection of State Highway 9 and State Highway 32, on the west side of State Highway 9. A photograph of the Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation site is shown below. The substation has a high-side voltage of 161,000 volts, phase-tophase, and a low-side voltage of 12,470 volts, phase-to-phase. The substation has a primary source of feed from a tap point on the Tennessee Valley Authority Calhoun City to Coffeeville 161,000-volt Transmission Line, then along a 4.1 mile radial 161,000-volt transmission line owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The substation has a split bus design. Each side of the split bus has a primary electrical protective device which is a 161,000-volt, three-phase electrical circuit


Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 21

switcher, with an additional 161,000-volt three-phase electrical circuit switcher in series with the primary circuit switcher in a redundant trip scheme. Each electrical bus is then connected to the transformer bay bus. Each transformer bay consists of a 20.0 / 26.7 / 33.3 MVA, OA / FA /FA transformer. Each transformer bay is connected to a step-type, three-phase substation voltage regulator. The output of each voltage regulator is connected to the 12,470-volt circuit breaker bay, which consists of five 1,200-amp vacuum feeder circuit breakers on each side of the split bus. A ground-breaking ceremony for the Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation was held on Friday, May 20, 2011. The Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation was first energized on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, and load began to be transferred from the Bruce 69-kV Substation on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. A ribbon cutting and dedication program was held for the Southwest Bruce 161-kV Substation on Monday, November 18, 2013.


5/18/20 4:41 PM

Ingomar 46-kV Substation The proposed Ingomar 46-kV Substation is located at 970 Highway 15 South, New Albany, Mississippi, at a location northeast of the Ingomar Community in Union County, Mississippi. The Ingomar Substation is currently almost complete with plans to energize in May 2020. A photograph is shown below. The need for the Ingomar Substation was first brought about by the need for an alternate reliable back-up source for the Ecru 46-kV Substation, and for additional feeder circuits to split-up the two existing circuits serving all of

Pontotoc Electric’s load in Union County. The Ingomar 46-kV Substation consists of two 46kV circuit breakers, one primary and one redundant; three single-phase 5,000 kVA / 6666 kVA OA / FA, 46: 7,200/12,470Y-kV transformers, plus a spare; one threephase substation type regulator; and six 1200-amp, 12.47kV feeder circuit breakers. It is initially expected to serve approximately five megawatts of load in Union County in the communities of Bald Hill, Fredonia, Mitchell Switch, Ingomar, North Oaks, Liberty, and Pilcher’s Crossroads.


We’ve heard it said that time stands still for no

January day in 1934, determined to help forge

man. Over the past 85 years, time has brought

a better way of life for those in the area where

changes, celebrations, success stories, innovations,

they lived.

and even times of sadness to the men and women

We’ve seen our business grow by number of

who are a part of this great company, as well as

meters, pole counts, service offerings, payment

those we serve.

options, employee count, and in many other ways.

Reflecting on 85 years in business reminds us

Throughout it all, we remember the reason we

that change is inevitable, and if we’re mindful, we

are here today. It’s the same as it was 85 years

can embrace it with excitement for what the future

ago – providing safe, reliable electric power at the

holds. Can you imagine the anticipation of Claude

lowest practical cost while following the Cooperative

Pitner Shannon and Marcus Lee Shannon as that first

Principles, operating in a financially prudent

TVA pole was raised in Pontotoc County?

manner, and being supportive of industry in our

A combination of joy and more than a little

local economy, thus enhancing the standard of

trepidation may have been in their thoughts that

iving for citizens in our communities. That’s one

day. They may have watched anxiously on that cold

thing that will never change. PIVOTAL MOMENTS | PAGE 21

Pivotal_Moments-PAGES.indd 22

5/18/20 4:41 PM

Pivotal_Moments-COVER.indd 2

5/18/20 4:43 PM

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.