Weather forecasts at TVA can save you money - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Weather forecasts at TVA can save you money

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You've probably gone into shock from your electric bill after a heat wave or cold snap. Accurately forecasting these swings in the weather can affect your bill as much as the weather itself does.

Jeff House, a meteorologist at TVA, keeps track of the weather every day. His forecasts help TVA determine how to purchase power.

"Temperatures are the main driver, but humidity, wind, precipitation, clouds, all that makes a difference as well," House says.

He says summer pop-up storms and long cold snaps present the biggest issues, but recent "ups and downs" in temperatures also make his job a bit harder.

"Coming off some mild nights with hardly any heating demand and load, and the last few nights we've gotten cold," House adds.

If Houses's forecasts are too high, TVA might have to cheaply sell leftover power on the open market. If his forecasts are too low, TVA might have to buy power at a higher cost. These errors lead to losses.

According to resource operations manager and House's boss, Patrick Walshe, the goal is to keep costs as low as possible so your power bill doesn't get out of control.

"If Jeff is off by four or five degrees or misses the timing of a front, then you're looking at 1,500-2,000 Megawatts of power that we're caught short-handed," Walshe says.

It's hard for Walshe to put a dollar figure on this loss, but 1,500 megawatts can supply power to nearly 200,000 homes on an average day.

House has an excellent track record, bringing the forecast error down from 3% to 1.9% during the last fiscal year. His precise work makes a big difference.

"By shaving that much of an error off his load forecasting we can plan that much better," Walshe adds. "So he thereby saves people in the Valley on their final bills when they receive them."

It's a lot of pressure on House, but he enjoys the challenge.

"Makes me proud professionally and for the company, but also my vision is I see that helping out the people of the Valley," House says.

House is the forecaster for the entire TVA service region. However, just like we back each other up here on the Channel 3 Storm Alert Team, Walshe, who's also a meteorologist, backs up House if he's out sick or on vacation.

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