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Historic Electric Loads Led To Christmas Weekend TVA Blackouts

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Historic Electric Loads Led To Christmas Weekend TVA Blackouts

Historic electric loads instigated TVA’s rolling blackouts across the state over the Christmas weekend as part of a tiered emergency plan.

Cookeville Electric Director Carl Haney said the plan takes events step-by-step in energy conservation efforts to mitigate loads. He said this is the first time in his almost 29 years the TVA has gotten to a rolling blackout step.

“You really don’t know how that’s going to impact you until it gets here because you know the cold weather is coming, but are there reserves? And in this case, everybody in the southeast was using their reserves so you didn’t have those reserves like you used to,” Haney said. “So I think it’s just one of those things that yes, you know the cold weather is coming, but the loads didn’t hit like what they did this time.”

Haney said during these events, the department is in close contact with TVA to carry out instructions as quickly as possible. He said notice is not always given a long time in advance, but the department does what it can to update its customers and have as little impact on their services as possible.

Haney said they started to look at what the most important circuits are, such as the one the hospital uses and then move through the different areas. He said they tried to keep the blackouts to just 15 minutes and varied enough to only happen to the same customers a few times.

“So we just did that Friday, only for a couple of hours and Saturday was a little bit longer until you start to get temperatures rising and past the morning once people got up and the demand lessened,” Haney said. “And so that’s kind of how our processed worked.”

Haney said the city builds its power infrastructure with about 60 percent capacity to avoid overload issues. However, he said with the large number of people who had moved to the area and a large uptick in use the rolling blackouts were initiated to prevent wider spread damage.

“I think it’s just a thing where you don’t really realize how much growth is there or how much load you’re hitting until events like these,” Haney said.


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