TVA may be looking for supplemental power

TENNESSEE - Above-average temperatures for early June may push TVA to seek sources of power outside its grid of hydro, coal and nuclear plants. The utility predicts an electricity demand of about 30,000 megawatts the week of June 16 - still below last August's record power demand of 34,000 megawatts.

With temperatures 10 degrees above normal for early June, TVA expects high but not peak power demand over the weekend and into the coming week before cooler weather prevails.

Friday the 13th, temperatures across TVA's eight-state service area were expected to average 93 degrees with an electricity demand of 28,600 megawatts. The following week will be warmer, with average temperatures in the mid-90s and megawatt demands Monday and Tuesday of more than 30,000, according to TVA spokesman Gil Francis.

While that's "nowhere near the record"- set Aug. 16 last year with an average temperature of 102 and power demand of 33,400 megawatts - Francis said, TVA may need to seek sources of power outside its grid of hydro, coal and nuclear plants, which could potentially add extra charges to customers' future electricity bills.

Until this week, he said, TVA has experienced lower demand compared with last year, thanks to cloudy skies and relatively low temperatures through May. The region continues to need rain in order to provide supplemental power as well as fulfill cooling requirements for TVA's core fossil and nuclear plants. But so far, he said, this year is shaping up better than last.

"Lake levels this year compared to a year ago are better. Rainfalls this year compared to last year are better," he said.

However, Francis said, until the second nuclear power reactor comes online at Watts Bar in Kingston - slated for 2013 - TVA can't fully meet the power demands of its region through the summer months without supplemental power.

Energy efficiency can help allay that demand.

"We're always encouraging folks to use energy wisely, to set their thermostats at 78, close blinds on the southern side of the houseÂ… (and) shut off appliances during peak demand," Francis said.

Through energy efficiency measures, TVA has said it plans to save 1400 megawatts, or the equivalent of a large coal or nuclear generation plant, by 2012.

In a timely presentation, Joe Hoagland, TVA's vice president of energy efficiency, discussed the agency's energy savings strategy at a meeting of the state's energy task force in Chattanooga.

Hoagland acknowledged that, in the past, TVA as a power seller has not encouraged energy efficiency. But he said an average 2 percent annual growth in demand is pushing TVA to pursue solutions besides generation.

"The energy situation is growing immensely, and it's simply not something building power plants can help us with," Hoagland said. "We all need to be thinking about regulation and incentives that drive people to different behavior."


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