With temperatures across the Tennessee Valley below freezing for all but eight hours in the first six days of 2018, the Tennessee Valley Authority supplied over 600 gigawatt-hours of energy every day last week since New Year's Day — the second longest streak for such a volume of sales in the 85-year history of TVA.
The only time TVA has had a longer period of such high power use came in January 2010 when a prolonged cold spell kept electricity consumption above the 600 gigawatt-hour level for 10 straight days.
How much is 600 gigawatt-hours? That's over 600 million kilowatt-hours — enough power to supply the average home for 40,000 years.
Milder temperatures and the shut down of most plants and offices on Sunday limited power demand by TVA to break the power demand streak. But not before TVA had recorded its highest power demand for the first week of a New Year ever.
TVA spokesman Scott Fiedler said TVA set a holiday record for power sales on New Year's Day and reached a peak so far this winter of 31,740 megawatts on Tuesday morning when temperatures across the Tennessee Valley averaged only 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures were warmer through most of last week but remained below freezing nearly 96 percent of the time in the first six days of the year when power use topped 600 gigawatt hours each day.
A majority of homes and businesses in the Tennessee Valley are heated with electric furnaces so the colder weather pushes up power consumption as furnaces operate more and at higher loads with colder weather.
TVA said it had no trouble meeting the power demand last week with most of its 74 power plants in operation even after TVA shut down its oldest coal plant last weeek. TVA's peak power demand last week remained well below the all-time peak of of 33,482 megawatts set on Aug. 16, 2007 when temperatures across TVA's 7-state region averaged 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Freezing temperatures today forced the closing of most schools in the Chattanooga area as freezing rain caused some roads to be slippery.
The National Weather Service predicts temperatures will rise above freezing this afternoon and should gradually increase through the week, reaching a high into the 60s on Thursday.