'Arctic blast' pushes TVA power use to all-time high

Arkansas-St. John's Live Blog
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Consumption of electricity across the Tennessee Valley reached an all-time high for a 24-hour period on Tuesday when temperatures across TVA's 7-state region never got above 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

As homes, offices and factories cranked up electric furnaces and heaters to cope with this week's Arctic blast, TVA sold a record 703 gigawathours of electricity on Tuesday, beating the previous record set in January 2010, TVA spokesman Duncan Mansfield said. Tuesday's record use of power followed Monday's 678 gigawatthours of power consumption in the Tennessee Valley, the fourth highest date for daily power sales in TVA history.

After two and a half days of near record production and sales, TVA lifted its power supply alert at 1 p.m. eastern time today as temperatures moderated and rose above freezing across most of the Valley.

TVA's peak power consumption was reached Tuesday morning at 32,490 megawatts when the average temperature in the Valley was only 4 degrees. Power use would have been even higher had not some of TVA's largest customes on interruptible power contracts scaled back their power use during the peak demand period. TVA also lowered the temperature in its own offices and plants and asked for voluntary conservation measures by its 155 distributors.

Such measures helped shave at least 1,000 megawatts off of the peak and helped TVA meet the high demand, even with its Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Facility in Chattanooga still out of commission for repairs.

"There was extraordinary effort and great teamwork under challenging and fast changing circumstances," Tim Ponseti, vice president of TVA transmission, operations and power supply, said in a statement. "Meeting back-to-back peak loads over 31,500 megawatts on Monday night and Tuesday morning, coupled with extremely low temperatures, took a tremendous amount of preparation, coordination and quick action."