TVA, FPU set new peak demands after blast of cold

Posted on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 7:21 pm

The Tennessee Valley Authority, along with Fayetteville Public Utilities, met record-breaking winter demands for electricity Friday morning.

According to TVA, the demand for electricity Friday morning was an estimated 33,345 megawatts when the average temperature across the region hovered at 7 degrees.

Britt Dye, FPU’s CEO and general manager, reported that FPU met a new peak of 119 megawatts Friday, surpassing the record-breaking demand of 112 megawatts set just a couple of weeks ago when an arctic front swept over the area, dipping temperatures to the single digits and wind chills below zero.

“We got another good test of the system today,” Dye said on Friday, crediting ongoing maintenance and added redundancy in the electric feed for the system’s success in maintaining uninterrupted power supply.

The natural gas system also experienced high demand during the early morning hours Friday, about 3 a.m. until 5 a.m., when temperatures were at their lowest, Dye said.

“Gas increased quite a bit, as far as what was demanded of the system, but everything held up well,” Dye said.

With another blast of cold moving into the area early this week, FPU is asking for customers’ assistance in case there are power outages.

Dye asks that customers remember to cut everything off if there is a power outage, preventing the system from being overloaded once power is restored.

“It’s very, very important for them to cut the load,” Dye advised, saying it helps the system tremendously when restoring power.

Friday was TVA’s highest demand for electricity since the summer of 2007 and third-highest in TVA history. The previous winter record was 32,572 megawatts set on Jan. 16, 2009.

Meeting the record demand required the combined efforts of TVA’s employees and generating facilities, coordination with the Valley’s 155 local power companies and large industrial customers, and the cooperation of businesses and households to conserve. TVA had issued an alert late last week asking for consumers to voluntarily cut back on energy consumption in anticipation of the high demand and asking power distributors to cut back in their own offices.

“We cut the thermostat to 60 degrees and turned off any lights we didn’t need,” Dye said of the local FPU offices Friday. “Everybody inside got a little cold, but we made arrangements for that so it all worked out well.”

Dye expressed appreciation to FPU staff, who were on emergency stand-by during the extreme cold – “Everybody knows their duties,” he said. “They hang around a little bit closer than normal in these adverse weather conditions. They’re dedicated. They’ll do whatever we need to get done to keep the power, gas and water going like it needs to go.”

Relying on its diversified electric generating sources, TVA received 29 percent of its power from coal-fired plants, 21 percent from nuclear plants, 24 percent from natural gas plants, 12 percent from hydroelectric dams, 2 percent from wind farms and 12 percent from power market purchases.

“For the second time this month, TVA sincerely thanks everyone across the seven-state TVA service area for conserving energy and helping us provide a safe, reliable flow of electricity during this latest cold wave,” said Tim Ponseti, vice president of TVA Transmission Operations and Power Supply. “The effort made by our employees and customers during this round of bitterly cold weather exemplifies the teamwork and skill required to provide low-cost, reliable power.”

Ponseti added, “Meeting back-to-back peak loads and ensuring uninterrupted power under extreme conditions takes a network of experienced, well-trained people and a community willing to turn down their thermostat a few degrees.”

With more cold weather on the way, TVA is continuing its internal Conservative Operations Alert, delaying non-emergency maintenance activities at its generation and transmission facilities to minimize risks to the power supply.

TVA’s all-time peak demand record remains 33,482 megawatts, set on Aug. 16, 2007, when temperatures averaged 102 degrees.

Residents who heat with propane gas got some welcome news Friday when Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak issued an order to exempt Tennessee home and business owners from propane delivery restrictions in order to obtain needed propane.

”Heating homes and businesses is a priority during this cold weather snap,” said McPeak. “This order allows individuals to purchase propane from any dealer with available resources to help keep Tennesseans warm and in business while we manage these frigid temperatures.”

The Department of Commerce and Insurance is waiving the requirement that only the propane container dealer/owners can fill their containers. This order allows dealers of propane to fill or refill a container belonging to another dealer for the duration of the State of Emergency.

Headlines of the Day