TVA power demand expected to hit record levels as Chattanooga region heat index tops 100 degrees

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The Tennessee Valley Authority offices, at Market and West 11th streets, are seen before dawn March 5.
Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The Tennessee Valley Authority offices, at Market and West 11th streets, are seen before dawn March 5.

This week's heat wave is expected to boost electricity consumption in the Tennessee Valley to one of the highest summertime levels in the past decade, with the heat index topping 100 degrees most every day in Chattanooga.

The National Weather Service expects another afternoon high Thursday in the upper 90s in Chattanooga, with the heat index, which measures how hot it feels from both the temperature and humidity, rising into triple digits for the fourth consecutive day.

"It could be even hotter on Friday," Tim Coyle, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tennessee, said in a telephone interview.

As air conditioners try to keep homes and businesses cool amid the heat wave, TVA President Jeff Lyash said Wednesday power demand could top 32,000 megawatts during the afternoon heat Thursday and Friday — the highest August demand in more than a decade for TVA.

TVA's power plants are running well, and the utility has been able to purchase electricity on the grid to meet the high demand, Lyash said. TVA is being aided by new gas plants recently installed at its Colbert Fossil Plant in Alabama, adding 750 megawatts of power that can be fired up in just 11 minutes.

Such gas generation is vital during volatile energy demand periods like this week, Lyash said. Although afternoon power peaks are near historic highs, overnight power use in the predawn hours can fall to only 40% of the afternoon peak level.

"The load changes 24 hours a day, and it changes quickly and in far different ways at different times of the year," Lyash said,

TVA's power demand reached 30,525 megawatts Monday and 30,987 megawatts Tuesday afternoon, TVA spokesperson Scott Fiedler said,

Despite the high demand, TVA officials said their system performed well, and they expect similar demand peaks for the rest of the week.

To help limit such costs, local power companies like EPB recommend homeowners:

— Keep blinds closed on north and west-facing windows.

— Run ceiling fans.

— Close exterior doors and seal any gaps evident by seeing light or feeling air.

— Increase the temperature on your thermostat a couple of degrees while still maintaining comfort.

TVA offers more energy-saving tips online at To schedule a phone consultation or in-person home energy check-up with the EPB Energy Pros, EPB customers may call or text 423-648-1372.

Contact Dave Flessner at or 423-757-6340.

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