Extreme cold puts strain on power grid, causing outages - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Extreme cold puts strain on power grid, causing outages

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

The extreme temperatures are putting a strain on the power supply, in some cases, causing outages. Tuesday morning, TVA told local power companies to ask customers to cut back if they could. The official request has since been lifted.

TVA says this is the second-highest recorded use of power, ever, for the winter months. It says Tuesday morning, at its peak, TVA was supplying enough electricity to power 2 million homes for an entire year

The nerve center at EPB is a flurry of activity, as workers constantly monitor the power grid that serves 174,000 customers.

"It's been bitterly cold and people are really cranking up those heaters," says John Pless, with EPB.

The deep freeze led to an all-time usage high for EPB at more than 1,300 megawatts. Just one megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes. The last time demand was this high, was during a heat wave in the Summer of 2007.

"This peak load, this peak demand was taking a toll on some of our equipment," says Pless.

At one point, the highest amount of outages reported was 1,800 homes on Signal Mountain.

"Quite frankly, some of that equipment was just overburdened and that's what caused some of those faults or some of those outages."

EPB crews on City View Terrace spent part of the day replacing a blown transformer. Homeowners like Bobby Jones were in the dark and cold for about 12 hours.

"It's not been real, real bad but the house has gotten kind of chilly on the inside. We just have to wrap up real good and tight," says Jones.

A construction worker himself, Jones says he knows what crews are going through.

"I think it's a good man to work outside in the cold, because I'm used to it and I know what they're going through."

TVA officials say even though its official conservation request has been lifted, reducing power consumption is still a good idea.

"Even turning your thermostat down one degree can have a fairly significant effect on your power bill," says Jim Hopson with TVA.

Power suppliers like EPB say avoid using major appliances in your home if you can like the washing machine, oven or dishwasher. Even though higher temperatures are forecasted for the weekend, we are not out the woods just yet. Tuesday night's low is expected to be around 12 degrees.  

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