As temperatures rise, TVA ends call for energy cutbacks

Published 10:07 am Monday, February 23, 2015

The storm clouds have departed, the sun has reappeared and the temperatures are climbing back up the thermometer.

With record cold behind us for the time being, the Tennessee Valley Authority has lifted the request for voluntary energy cutbacks. After battling subzero temperatures and back-to-back snow storms, the Elizabethton Electric Department seems to have weathered the storm with minimal damage.

“We have fared pretty well,” said EED Director Rob Toney. “We had a few scattered issues. We lost a few transformers and fuses but thankfully there was nothing major.”

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One of those outages occurred Friday morning in the Lover’s Lane, Bristol Highway and Bullocks Hollow communities. Toney said a breaker blew out in the District Substation on Lover’s Lane at around 8:20 a.m., knocking out power to around 400 customers for 20-40 minutes.

It was not immediately clear what caused the outage, Toney said. He explained two of the top phases, or power lines, had snapped together which tripped the breaker to keep the power from surging down the line.

“It could have been a number of things that caused it,” Toney said. “It could have been a tree tapped the lines, but that is doubtful because there was not a lot of wind or snow weighing the limbs down. A car could have bumped a pole which caused the lines to bump together.”

The breakers acted exactly as they should have in that situation, Toney said.

“The breaker is the only protection we have on the line to keep further damage from happening,” he said. “The breaker trips out when there is a surge of power or something goes wrong.”

He praised the electric department crews for getting the power restored as quickly as they did.

“They were getting to work within minutes of the outage happening,” Toney said. “Because it was so cold, we had to bring the power back on in stages. We didn’t want to bring it all back at once and have the demand overload the system. We brought up a section of customers, let the usage stabilize and then brought up another section.”

As for the voluntary use reductions, Toney thanked the EED customers for their cooperation and said the efforts helps the system through the worst of the weather. He noted the usage peaked lower than expected, but Thursday morning’s usage set an all-time February record for the TVA.

“The peak Thursday was 32,109 megawatts, setting an all-time use record for TVA for February,” Toney said. “Any conservation people can do in times like this, we appreciate it.”