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Monday May 30th, 2016 12:40PM

Company investigates after Sat. night power outage

By B.J. Williams News Director
GAINESVILLE - A company that builds transmission lines for Georgia's electricity suppliers is investigating after a new line sagged onto distribution lines Saturday night in northwest Hall County.

The malfunction occurred around 7 p.m. Saturday and snapped some power poles in the Sardis area, bringing wires down onto some streets and causing a power outage that lasted until around 1 a.m. Sunday.

At the height of the outage, about 65 Georgia Power customers were without power, while about 1,200 Jackson EMC customers were affected, according to officials with each utility.

The transmission line that sagged onto Georgia Power and Jackson EMC lines is owned by Georgia Transmission Corporation. Company Public Affairs Director Craig Heighton said a swivel designed to hold the line in place failed, and he said such a malfunction is rare.

"The swivel itself is designed to withstand 7,500 lbs. of pressure. From my understanding, there were only 2,500 pounds of pressure on that piece of equipment," said Heighton.

"Just to give you an idea [of how rare this is] my project manager who is on this project in his 30 years has never come across this," said Heighton.

While hundreds of customers were without power for approximately six hours, Hall County emergency officials had no reports of injuries or other resulting problems.

"Again, this is an extremely rare occurance. Luckily, it did not involve anyone getting hurt or cause any huge disruptions, especially to traffic," said Heighton. "From my understanding, emergency response was out making sure the roads were clear."

An investigation began Sunday morning, according to Heighton, and was wrapping up Monday.

"We're in the process now of double checking the equipment that is out there...other swivels...to make sure that they're safe."

He said the line that is being rebuilt is one that has been in the Gainesville area since before Lake Lanier was built in the 1950s.

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