Don Culpepper Reports On Power Plant Damage

The massive boilers and steam driven turbines at Mississippi Powers Watson Electric Generating Plant stand idle but mostly undamaged by the Hurricanes fury.

"Fortunately none of the major components of the plant like the turbine generator or the boiler were harmed," says Mississippi Power Spokesman Kurk Brautigam.

But below, the damage from flooding is evident and extensive.

"We took in about 16 million gallons of water that flooded out pump rooms where all of out critical electrical equipment is," says Plant Manager Sam Sumner.

"All of these electronics that control every aspect, the temperature, the pressure, all the measurements, all the remote control ability that we have in this plant were compromised," adds Brautigam.

Repairing and replacing the water logged electronics is labor intensive.

"We've got 200 employees at this facility that are involved in the recovery effort," says Sumner. "We've got other resources from the Southern Company, from the other operating companies who sent in folks. And then we've got a lot of contractors on site at this point in time."

It's also expensive.

"We know that's it's probably in the tens of millions," says Brautigam.

With 19 to 20 thousand customers still unable to receive power and with cooler temperatures on the way workers have a small window of time to complete their work. It's time they say they desperately need in order to have this plant at least partially back on line by the end of the year."

"Those are the base load units and we'll get them back on just as quickly as we can, and then we'll work on the other units that are really more for peeking during our hotter summer times," says Brautigam.

It's an ambitious goal they're confident in reaching in record time.

by Don Culpepper.