Motorist traveling 421 through Zionville have noticed some minor travel delays along that route, as crews have been installing new power poles for the last several weeks.
The project, well underway before the recent summer storm knocked out power to a large section of the county, is to add a second circuit from Blue Ridge EMC's Sherwood Substation off Vanderpool Road, then following Hwy 421, then following Joe Shoemaker Road, then following Sherwood Road to Old Hwy 421. This project will improve the reliability of the Beaver Dams, Zionville, Mabel and Bethel communities, says Renee Whitner, Director of Public Relations with Blue Ridge Electric. That project is scheduled to be complete by September, weather permitting.
Whitner also tells WataugaOnline.com that later this year a second similar project will begin, adding a second circuit from the Sherwood Substation off Vanderpool Road, then following Charlie Thompson Road, then following Linville Creek Road, then following Hwy 421 to Hwy 194. This project will improve the reliability of the Vilas and Valle Crucis communities. It should be complete by the end of the year.
To allow for a better understanding of why these projects are needed to improve reliability for Blue Ridge EMC members, Whitner proved this insight:
On the Blue Ridge Electric system, each substation has between two to six circuits and the average number of meters on a circuit is approximately 1,000 meters. The Sherwood Substation has two circuits with approximately 2,000 meters and the third circuit with approximately 1,000 meters. As mentioned above, there are actually two projects scheduled for construction this year, one for each of the 2,000 meter circuits. Each project is approximately two miles long and will split the 2,000 meter circuits into two, bringing each to approximately 1,000 meters per circuit, which will improve reliability. When/if a major outage occurs affecting those areas, only 1,000 meters will experience an outage rather than 2,000 meters. The poles are taller since they carry two separate circuits, while only one circuit is carried by the poles today. Sherwood Substation, which has only three circuits will have five circuits by the end of the year.
Photos: Kenneth Reece