Residents in many Middle Tennessee communities experienced power outages overnight due to a line of severe thunderstorms and 70+ mph straight-line winds that passed through the area late Sunday afternoon.
Beginning at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 3, a fast-moving thunderstorm system moved across the Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) service area.
The speed and strength of the storms caused widespread damage by snapping poles and blowing trees onto power lines due to very high straight-line winds; gusts of 70 mph were reported by several news sources. Both the TVA transmission system and the MTE distribution system suffered damage.
The resulting outage impacted more than 44,000 MTE member accounts across MTE’s distribution system, primarily in Williamson, Rutherford and Wilson counties.
MTE crews were dispatched immediately to begin assessing the damage; once the scope of damage started to be uncovered, additional contract crews were also brought into the restoration effort to begin repairing poles and clearing debris.
The severity of the storms also caused a malfunction to MTE’s outage reporting system. This damage resulted in longer than normal wait times for members trying to report a problem. Officials apologized for incorrect restoration time estimates provided early in the event. These estimates were mistakenly provided before the entire scope of this widespread nature of the storm damage was fully known.
“We had a number of elements come together to create a unique situation – the severity and speed of the thunderstorms, the widespread nature of the damage, and the technical issues they brought about, all combined to create additional challenges for the hardworking team members that serve you here at MTE,” said Chris Jones, MTE CEO and President. “I’m very proud of the MTE line crews and control center personnel; their responsiveness has been as outstanding as always. I apologize to any members who became frustrated when they attempted to contact us. We try to learn from each new situation, and we will learn from this one. Our commitment to serving our members remains as strong as ever. Everyone at MTE will continue to work hard around the clock until service is restored to all our members.”
By 1:00 a.m. on Monday morning, the number of member accounts out had been reduced to 17,000 through the crews’ efforts and those in the MTE control center. The outages were further reduced to 11,000 by 1:30 a.m.
Line crews continued to work through the night and by 6:00 a.m. on Monday, almost all large pockets of outages had been restored.
As of 8:00 a.m. Monday, the remaining 4,800 outages are very widespread and sporadic, consisting of smaller pockets or single-member accounts that have storm damage from trees or limbs coming into contact with power lines or knocking them down. Additional crews have been called in from utilities across the state and region to expedite the remaining restoration work, although these on-going restoration efforts may be hindered by additional storms predicted this evening.
Due to the varied nature of these smaller pockets of outages, it is difficult to place a restoration estimate because each situation is unique. MTE crews and additional support crews will continue to work until power is completely restored.
In the meantime, Middle Tennessee Electric expressed gratitude for its members’ continued patience and support. MTE asked that the public be very cautious around any downed power lines and to contact the cooperative at 877-777-9111 to report downed wires or an outage.
Updated information will be available on MTE social media outlets as the day progresses; to view updates to the outage map, please visit the MTE website: www.mtemc.com/outages.
Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative is the largest electric cooperative in Tennessee serving more than 235,000 accounts and among the five largest electric cooperatives in the United States. MTE’s service area includes 11 middle Tennessee counties, and primarily Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, and Canon counties.
For more information, please visit https://www.mtemc.com/