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Mississippi Power Constructing Hardened Operations Center to Handle Future Storms
From: Mississippi Power   Filed 5/23/07  GCN

Construction is under way on a new operations center to relocate Mississippi Power’s most critical storm restoration functions away from areas near waterways for protection in future storms. The operations center, located in the Lyman Community off of U.S. Highway 49, will serve customers in the 23 counties in Mississippi Power’s service territory.

Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to Mississippi Power’s transmission and distribution system and the company’s facilities and communication systems. It was the first time in the company’s 80-year history that all 195,000 customers were without power and more than 120,000 square feet of office space, including the storm center located at Plant Watson, was destroyed.

“We knew immediately after Katrina that we needed to take steps to mitigate risks during future storms to serve the needs of our customers following devastating weather events,” said David Simmons, disaster preparation manager and storm manpower director. “With the addition of the operations center, Mississippi Power will be more capable of handling whatever mother nature delivers.”

The operations center, with 168 employees, will include the storm directors, transmission control, distribution operations, information technology, transmission, distribution and division services and the call center. The operations center is in a secure location 10 miles inland from the coast line with a greater elevation of 81 feet above sea level. The facility will have the capability to withstand 200 mile per hour winds and will have its own backup generation system.

“The operations center is a vital component to the success of Mississippi Power’s long-term restoration plan,” said Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Leonard Bentz. “The commission isn’t taking any chances after the destruction of Katrina to safeguard our utility industry. This project will give Mississippi Power the added muscle to take care of its customers.”

Construction is expected to be complete March 2008. In the interim, Mississippi Power has developed short-term plans to secure all critical storm functions until the operations center is built.

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