Power demand soars as temperatures plummet in Chattanooga region

Arkansas-St. John's Live Blog
photo In this file photo, senior program manager Scott Walker points to a computer display showing power usage and availability in the Tennessee Valley Authority System Operations Center at TVA headquarters in Chattanooga.

The Tennessee Valley Authority expects plunging temperatures from an arctic cold wave moving across the region to boost electricity consumption Tuesday morning above 31,000 megawatts, but TVA doesn't anticipate any problem meeting the demand.

Even with temperatures expected to reach the lowest levels in nearly two decades, the winter cold today and Tuesday will still fall far short of generating the electricity demand TVA experienced during the summer months of 2007 when a 102-degree day pushed demand to 33,482 megawatts, or the previous witner peak set in January 2009 when 9-degree temperatures pushed demand to 32,572 megawatts.

TVA said its bulk electric system remains secure and stable at this time.

"TVA has been monitoring and carefully preparing for this blast of potentially record-cold weather since last week," TVA Chief Operating Officer Chip Pardee said in a statement today. "We have taken proactive measures so the system remains robust and reliable for our customers and power users across the Valley."

TVA issued an internal "Conservative Operations Alert" on Friday, indefinitely suspending all non-essential maintenance activities to minimize risk of power interruptions on TVA's transmission system and generation facilities.

Late Sunday, TVA also initiated a "Power Supply Alert," a precautionary declaration that an unexpected shutdown of a large generating unit or transmission system interchange could reduce TVA's power supply reserves.

TVA is working with the region's 155 local power companies and TVA's directly served industrial customers to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity to the 9 million residents of the Valley.