TVA employees prep for 2017's first cold snap - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TVA employees prep for 2017's first cold snap

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With the expected cold temperatures coming this weekend, the freezing temperatures and possibility of snow and ice, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s employees are gearing up to meet the demand for electricity.

The utility’s employees, deep in the basement of TVA’s headquarters in Chattanooga, are preparing to ensure there is enough electricity for this weekend’s cold snap.

“We’re projecting a load of over 26,000 MWs (megawatts) this weekend,” says Patrick Walshe, TVA manager of operations at the utilities’ nerve center. “The last time we saw loads this high was on January 19, 2016.”  

The TVA has been prepping equipment and facilities for months, Walshe explains. “The good thing about Mother Nature is that she’s predictable at least twice a year—the summer is hot and the winter is cold.”

According to TVA, regardless of the season, power-generating units must always be in the optimal condition to provide electricity at a moment’s notice. For example, TVA’s pumped-storage facility at Raccoon Mountain can go from generating zero electricity to generating about 1,600 MWs in about 45 seconds. 

That is enough electricity to power 650,000 homes.

Electricity demand in the Tennessee Valley normally peaks in winter, but with relatively mild weather the utility is not seeing as much energy demand now as it did this past summer. TVA is forecasting a moderate winter. 

“TVA is no stranger to colder-than-normal temperatures and is aware that the cold puts great demands on the electric system,” said Tim Ponseti, vice president, Transmission Operations & Power Supply. “Procedures are in place to guarantee the system remains stable and secure.”

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