COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – A major infrastructure investment is silently taking place in northwest Alabama. This particular project will likely affect most everyone reading this right now.From Sky19 it may look like the world’s largest jungle gym, but if we take a closer look it is the beginning of a $50-million upgrade by TVA.
“That reliable power that they (consumers) are used to when they flip the switch and the light comes on, what that means is that reliability will continue on for generations to come,” stated TVA Project Manager Jason Smith.
In March of 2021, the new power switchyard at Wilson Dam will serve the valley. The last time TVA did a major upgrade like this at Wilson came in the 1950s. Almost seventy years later, technology is offering them several more options.
“It will be connected into TVA’s fiber-optic network; which allows us to remotely connect, operate, monitor and control a lot of our equipment here,” Smith said.
Smith says it’s all about service to the consumer. Wilson generates the most power of any dam in the TVA system. With 400-thousand homes being served, they need this upgrade to stay at a 99.9% reliability rate.
“Our transmission system is a grid,” Smith explained. “So we collect the generation that comes out of the plant, we’re transporting it to this switching station and it gets switched around the valley.”
The existing power switches will continue to be utilized for several years following this project. However, the majority of the power the valley uses will likely come from the new switchyard once it is operational.
Wilson Dam can generate 650-megawatts of electricity with its 21-hydroelectric turbines. TVA says they have committed $2.2-billion dollars towards upgrading their power grid infrastructure over a five-year period.