Grid strain – Soaring temps bring conservation calls

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Sweltering residents during the most recent heat wave set near-record-high power demands on Tennessee Valley Authority, which issued a series of alerts to utilities and urged customers to conserve when possible.
The energy provider, whose vast district includes much of Northeast Mississippi, hit more than 31,000 megawatts Friday as temperatures soared above 100 degrees throughout the southeastern United States.
TVA asked customers of at least three Tennessee utilities to reduce electricity use between 3-9 p.m., and it sent memos to all utilities asking they postpone any maintenance that might affect the power grid.
Tupelo Water & Light Manager Johnny Timmons said he received two such alerts since Friday. He said he can’t recall the last time TVA issued alerts because it has been “so many years ago.”
Tupelo hit record-breaking temperatures three days last week. On Friday, it reached 106 degrees.
The alerts Timmons and most other TVA utilities received are considered the first step during times of extraordinarily high power demand. The next step, he said, asks customers to voluntarily turn off non-essential power sources. After that it moves to essential power, then establishing intervals of use and potentially curtailing power.
“We’re not there yet,” Timmons said, “but they’re wanting to warn you.”
TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said the energy provider has ended all alerts due to lower temperatures and said it’s able to provide as much electricity as needed.
But he said customers can – and should – take steps to reduce power consumption anyway because it reduces strain on the system and can lower monthly bills.
“Conserve power especially during peak hours,” he said. “Everybody gets off of work at the same time and comes home, and they turn on the lights and turn on the TV and turn on the stove. If you alter your schedule and do those things at different times, it helps.”
TVA also offers many energy-saving tips on its website, EnergyRight.com.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com