The heat is on, but TVA handles peak demands

The heat is on, but TVA handles peak demands

September 10th, 2019 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

The summer of 2019 may be wrapping up with near record temperatures for mid-September this week and next, but the Tennessee Valley Authority has had no problems powering air conditioners across its seven-state region to keep residents cool.

On Monday, the high temperature across the Tennessee Valley averaged 95 degrees Fahrenheit and it was expected to go even higher today.

TVA's peak power demand rose Monday to 28,048 megawatts and was projectd to be even higher today, although afternoon storms may limit that peak.

TVA meteorologist and resource operations and analysis manager, Patrick Walshe, said the record high temperature for Chattanooga today was 102 degrees Fahrenheit set back in 1925, "so we won't break any records today."

But Walshe said "it is going to be a hot one at about 97 or 98 F anticipated as today's high."

Walshe said TVA power demand across its 7-state region will continue to be around 28,000 megawatts today.

The hottest day of the summer this year was on Aug. 14 when the heat index across the valley topped 100 degrees and electricity use rose to the highest peak in August in more than seven years at 29,568 megawatts.

But that peak is far below the all-time summertime peak TVA reached in the summer of 2007 when temperatures across the valley averaged 102 degrees and the peak demand jumped to 33,482 megawatts from heavy electricity consumption for air conditioners.

According to the Energy Information Administration, almost all Tennessee households use air conditioning equipment, with over 80% using central air conditioners and a small portion using window or wall units.

But improved energy efficiency of heat pumps, air conditioners, appliances and machines, combined with the closing of some major electric-powered manufacturers in previous years, have combined to cut overall power demand in the Tennessee Valley below the peaks reached before the Great Recession a decade ago.

TVA spokeswoman Malinda Hunter said the utility has met its peak demands this summer without any major power interruptions or appeals for voluntary conservation.

TVA, which increased its electricity sales through most of its 86-year history, is now forecasting stable to declining electricity demand for the next two decades as the energy efficiency of machines, air conditioners and appliances continues to improve and distributed energy from solar, wind and other self-generated power increases.

"We watch the forecast closely, look ahead, and make adjustments as needed to continue providing reliable power across the valley," Walshe said today.


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