TVA report says HSUD does not have a restoration plan, failed to send financial reports

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:47 PM CDT

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (WMC) - Residents in Holly Springs, Mississippi, watched the storms roll in Friday night with anxiety about their power service.

A scathing report shows major problems with the Holly Springs Utility District (HSUD).

The power company is locally run and serves almost 12,000 customers in Marshall, Benton, Lafayette, Hardeman and Fayette counties, according to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Residents and businesses in Holly Springs do what they can to prepare for severe weather and potential power outages.

In the past, some say they’ve been out of power for days and some more than a week, but after a report detailing failures TVA found within HSUD, some are hoping things may turn around.

When February’s ice storm hit the city, Coffee In Holly owner Marc Hafner says his business lost more than $8,000 after they lost power.

“Just in equipment and products, that’s not including the days that we weren’t open and couldn’t bring in revenue,” said Hafner.

(Action News 5)

TVA says they received 1,376 complaints from residents reporting a lack of power during that time.

“It’s happened so much to us, I hate to say it, but you get used to it,” said Hafner. “You come to work hoping the lights are on, and if they’re out, there’s nothing you can do.”

TVA also says 10 neighboring local power companies and MEMA came in to help get lights back on. However, a report from the TVA shows several of them were “not comfortable” sending crews due to the condition of the HSUD’s restoration map system, which the TVA says is more than a decade old.

“Sometimes it’s hours,” said Shelly Curtis, an employee of a business in Downtown Holly Springs. “There’s been days that power goes out and we end up having to shut down for the rest of the day, because we don’t really have an update or any idea of when it might come back on.”

TVA also says HSUD has no documented restoration plans.

Finances are also a problem.

The TVA says the utility failed to send financial reports for the last three fiscal years and isn’t investing in its electric distribution system at a comparable rate as other power companies.

The utility district’s general manager position has also been open since December 2022.

Mayor Sharon Gipson is currently serving as interim.

Action News 5 reached out to Gipson, but we were unable to reach her.

“Even in that short time, I’ve noticed it’s been an ongoing issue, and I think a lot of people are frustrated, residents and businesses alike,” said Curtis.

Among the several recommendations from the TVA, some involve a full inspection of HSUD’s system and developing a communication and recovery response plan.

Hafner and others want more from their power provider.

“Someone in the leadership position that actually knows what they’re doing, and somebody that knows what they’re doing at the utility department... be it TVA or a head of the utility department that actually knows what they’re doing,” said Hafner.

The report was sent to Mayor Gipson and the Board of Alderman for the city on March 3.

They have 45 days to respond and share improvements they’ve made.

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