Electricity returns to many; downtown could be back on today

Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 12:59pm

Four days after the record-crushing rains abated, the number of Nashville Electric Service customers without power has been halved, according to outage maps.

Downtown buildings — situated from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue, and from Commerce Street to Demonbreun Street — could be electrified by the end of today, NES spokesperson Laurie Parker told The City Paper. The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Country Music Television building, the Courtyard Downtown, the Nashville Symphony, the Hilton Nashville Downtown, the Encore, the AT&T Building and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce will soon have power. Wildhorse Saloon requested not to be electrified yet.

NES is also working to electrify buildings along James Robertson Parkway, though the building that houses the Tennessee Department of Education, along with a number of other state agencies, may remain darkened for some time. Reports of smoke and an electrical fire in the basement forced an evacuation of the building and drew a line of at least a dozen fire engines to the location Monday afternoon.

Other portions of the NES grid are submerged and unreachable, making repairs impossible until the water level drops. The continued flooding in Bellevue remains an obstacle to NES crews, as does flooding around the River Road area in west Nashville. The West Substation, the McCrory Substation and the Stadium Substation at LP Field were extensively damaged by the flooding. Also, much of the underground cable wasn’t designed to withstand floodwaters, so some of it may need to be replaced.