KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Any time the power goes out it can be frustrating, but in the case of several west Knox County residents, the lack of power was not the main concern. Instead, it was a lack of communication.
“It’s like a pot, being put inside a pot and cooked,” said Phillip Lauderdale.
That is how Lauderdale described what it was like when his power shut off during one of the hottest weeks of the year.
“I don’t see how the elderly people dealt with it,” Lauderdale told WATE. “It was unbearable.”
Tuesday night, the Lenoir City Utilities Board (LCUB) notified its customers about a wide power outage. For the next several hours, Lauderdale took refuge outside his trailer all while trying to learn what had happened.
“When I called in some man on the phone was telling me that they had had a car accident and took a power pole down,” Lauderdale said. “And then the next day I heard they were talking about transformers, that they were having problems, so I don’t know what happened.”
Phillip is not the only person left confused and frustrated. In west Knoxville, Chris Dotson said he was also left with no power and no explanation.
“I wanted regular updates. I mean it was a very hot day. It was about 80 degrees in our house. Here we are a week later and there was never an update,” said Dotson.
With those concerns in mind, WATE reached out to the utilities board. According to LCUB, the problem stemmed from a downed transmission system at the Karns substation.
“When the transmission system went down, that caused our Ebenezer substation, our Town Center North Shore substation, our Westland Drive substation, our Cedar Bluff substation and our Turkey Creek substation to go out,” said Jeremy Walden, Director of Engineering and Operations.
When it comes to the amount of time it took for power to return, Walden said the issue was two-fold.
“When you knock out five, six substations like that, you can’t just turn the switch back on all at once. You have to bring that all that load up slowly. And it takes time first to figure out. It probably too us an hour to see what had happened and figure it out. And then you have to bring it all back up.”
It is a challenge both Lauderdale and Dotson say they understand. Their problem is not the lack of electricity, but the lack of communication.
“Let the public know what’s going on,” Lauderdale said.
‘How difficult is that to send ‘Hey this is the problem we found, we think it’s going to be two hours, we think it’s going to be an hour’,” Dotson explained. “Whatever it is, communicate and let us know what’s going on.”
After speaking to both residents, WATE reached back out to the board with those concerns. According to Walden, the board realizes there is an issue.
Potential actions include designating someone to be completely devoted to handling updates, utilizing social media more, and collaborating with partners such as WATE to reach a greater number of people.