TVA working with customers to prevent rolling blackouts in summer

Published 1:02 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

With summer just around the corner, Tennessee Valley Authority is working to ensure customers will not see a repeat of the rolling blackouts whenever demand peaks, but it’s encouraging customers to take steps now to help reduce energy usage.

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“Obviously, as we get into summer, you know a lot of folks are thinking about just summer peaking, and you know there’s always that concern,” Tom Satkowiak said during a recent visit to media outlets, referencing the rolling blackouts of December 2022, when Winter Storm Elliott sent temperatures into the single digits. The senior communications consultant for TVA’s East Region said in terms of “feeling confident that’s not going to be something that we have to turn to,” the seven-state system boasts a 32,139-megawatt summer net capacity and has a diversity of generating assets, including nuclear sites, coal-fired sites, combustion turbine gas sites, combined cycle gas sites, and a diesel generation site.


“TVA operates conventional hydroelectric generating facilities at 29 of its dams,” Satkowiak said in a follow-up email. “These facilities have the capacity to generate 3,538 megawatts of electricity.”


The Raccoon Valley Project, located near Chattanooga, is TVA’s largest hydroelectric facility. In times of low power demand, water is pumped from Nickajack Reservoir at the base of Raccoon Mountain to a reservoir constructed at the top. When demand for power is high, the water is released through a tunnel that was drilled through the center of the mountain to drive generators in the mountain’s underground power plant. The facility has an installed capacity of 1,653 megawatts.


The energy authority is looking at the feasibility of constructing another pump storage facility, possibly in Alabama, and it has a pilot battery storage system in Vonore.


With 54 facilities producing power for the TVA system, all that energy has to go “somewhere on the system,” said Scott Brooks, TVA’s senior media specialist for external and regional communications. “Everything we generate has to be used somewhere,” Brooks said, explaining the River Forecast Center in Knoxville monitors the entire system and the Operations Center in Chattanooga provides direction on the level of generation from each energy asset. “They’re managing how much every type of generation is using, minute by minute,” he said.


Still, as summer approaches, consumers can play a part in avoiding rolling blackouts, and TVA is offering to help by giving homeowners a $50 rebate – per heat pump or central air conditioning unit – when they have their HVAC system inspected to make sure it’s ready for the summer heat. TVA is also offering rebates of up to $1,500 on qualifying units if a homeowner needs to replace a unit.


Since October 2023, the largest public power provider in the nation began investing $1.5 billion through 2028 to help homeowners and businesses save money on their power bills — especially in the hot summer and cold winter months — through energy efficiency incentives and demand response programs that help consumers lower their energy use.


The fourth-largest electricity generator in the nation, TVA partners with 153 local power companies that supply electricity to about 10 million people throughout seven Southeast states. It also sends direct power to 53 industrial customers and seven military and federal institutions.




The Assets

  • 3 Nuclear Sites
  • 4 Coal-Fired Sites
  • 29 Hydroelectric sites
  • 9 Combustion Turbine Sites
  • 8 Combined Cycle Gas Sites
  • 9 Solar Energy Sites
  • 1 Diesel Generation Site


The Dollars

  • About 335,000 Jobs
  • $45.9 Billion in Projected Capital Investments Since 2019
  • $1.5 Billion in Demand Management (FY24-28)


Source: Tennessee Valley Authority