The Tennessee Valley Authority and its work crews will blast rock in the next several weeks to build an electrical substation in east Oak Ridge. The new substation is being built before the Bull Run Fossil Plant, across the Clinch River in Claxton, closes in 2023.
The blasting was scheduled to start Thursday, January 21, but it was delayed due to weather. When it starts, the blasting work could last three weeks, TVA said in a press release. Controlled, low-charge detonations will be used to blast the rock. Blasting will occur periodically between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and traffic and pedestrian controls will be in place, TVA said.
The new Anderson County substation site is off Old Edgemoor Road at Haw Ridge Park, near Edgemoor Road.
TVA said Old Edgemoor Road will be closed to traffic during the blasts, and the Melton Lake Greenway walking trail will be closed for about 10 minutes during blasting. Rolling roadblocks will be set up on Edgemoor Road, halting traffic for about 10 minutes while blasting occurs. Edgemoor Road will remain open the rest of the day, TVA said.
Depending on the weather, the blasting sounds may be heard or seen within a 1/4-mile radius of the area. Wright Brothers is notifying neighbors that blasting will occur, TVA said. Warning signals will sound before each blast, and the area will be inspected after blasts, TVA said. The public will not be allowed in the area during the detonations for safety reasons.
In June, TVA said it needed to upgrade its electrical transmission system to ensure a reliable power supply before the Bull Run Fossil Plant closes.
Here are the upgrades that are required, TVA said:
- the new 500-kilovolt substation, which is being built on TVA property;
- modification of several transmission lines to connect the new substation; and
- improvements to existing transmission equipment in Anderson, Blount, Knox, and Roane counties.
The new substation site is located west of Melton Hill Reservoir (Clinch River), across from the Bull Run site, and south of Edgemoor Road, where 123.2-acres are managed by TVA’s River and Resources Stewardship organization for multiple uses. About 50 acres will now be managed by the Transmission and Power Supply organization, TVA said. Of that, about 14 acres will be fenced for the new substation.
The modifications to TVA’s existing transmission system in Anderson, Blount, Knox, and Roane counties that are required to support the new substation include:
- relocate and add new transmission structures near the substation site,
- install fiber optic ground wire, and
- upgrade equipment at the Alcoa, Bull Run, Kingston, Norris, and Solway 161-kilovolt substations and the Roane 500-kilovolt Substation.
No new property or new transmission rights of way were required for the substation project, and that is minimizing the impacts while meeting the needs of the power system, TVA said.
TVA said it is investing a total of $2.2 billion in transmission system improvements between 2019 and 2024 to continue providing power.
Here is the project timeline that TVA released for the Anderson County substation in June:
- June 11, 2020—Begin relocating transmission lines at the site
- July 27, 2020—Begin grading/foundation work at the site
- June 1, 2021—Begin substation construction
- Fall 2023—Substation operating
TVA said nearby areas can expect minor construction impacts (noise, traffic), but the areas will not be directly impacted by the project. This includes Melton Lake Greenway, Centennial Golf Course, Haw Ridge Park, J. B. Jones House, and residential areas. The wooded area between the J. B. Jones House and the substation will remain as a visual buffer, TVA said.
TVA said it analyzed the potential impact of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act. A draft environmental assessment was available for a 30-day public comment period beginning March 13, 2020. TVA said comments from the City of Oak Ridge have been addressed and are incorporated in the Final Environmental Assessment, which is available at tva.com/nepa or https://www.tva.com/environment/environmental-stewardship/environmental-reviews.
Project information is available online at tva.com/transmissionprojects or https://www.tva.com/energy/transmission/transmission-system-projects. Additional details are available in the Final Environmental Assessment, TVA said.
Here are two more links for further reading: