What has been described as a “once in a lifetime” storm in late December taxed TVA’s ability to provide continuous service to many of its customers.
There were complaints about TVA’s request to utilities to impose rolling blackouts to conserve energy as widespread areas dealt with sub-zero temperatures, 40-50 mph winds along with ice and snow.
This, during a Christmas when many residents were at home cooking, celebrating the holiday and retreating from the enormous Arctic blast that gripped much of the nation.
TVA produces and sells energy to utilities in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and small portions of Virginia and North Carolina.
It has a history of being reliable in providing power to customers for people in the 80,000-square-mile Tennessee Valley, with a 99.9% reliability rate in 2021 for the 20th year in a row. It makes no profit, pouring its revenues back into the system, and it reportedly had revenue of $11.2 billion, according to its website, in fiscal year 2019.
All this is to say that TVA has been a productive and reliable organization based on statistics.
But even the behemoth power producing organization had to tamp down usage during the recent storm, which obviously didn’t sit well with some, including lawmakers such as Tennessee U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, who along with other elected officials called for a deeper dive into the reasons for the need for the rolling blackouts.
Burchett experienced frozen and busted pipes at a barn on his property when power did not return after a rolling blackout last week.
He called on TVA to answer why it was unprepared to deal with the increased power demand, whether the agency delivered or provided power outside the TVA service area during the storm and asked what steps are being taken to ensure future preparedness in the event such a storm hits again.
These are reasonable questions. While most suffered periods of inconvenience because of the blackouts, the more vulnerable populations and the exposure to some degree of freezing pipes and lack of heat obviously can be dangerous.
TVA is assessing what went wrong, and we hope that measures can be taken to ensure that the public is protected and powered up in the future in case of mega-storms such as the one that blanketed the region.