(WHNT) — Congressman Dale Strong (R-Ala.) has penned a letter to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) President and CEO expressing his concern about ‘the resiliency of District 5’s power grid’ during the coming summer months.
In December 2022, Winter Storm Elliot caused the highest winter peak electricity demand in TVA history and the most energy delivered over a 24-hour period. TVA asked its over 150 local power companies to reduce their load between 5% to 10% in order to maintain grid stability, implementing ‘rolling blackouts’ for the first time in its 90-year history.
While that did successfully stabilize the power grid, it left thousands dealing with outages on December 23 and 24. The TVA accepted responsibility and admitted they fell short. Teams were then assembled to, “conduct a deep dive into what happened [and] how TVA responded.”
The TVA team did address these issues in the “Winter Storm Elliott After Action Report” and unveiled a ‘plan’ in May to avoid these rolling blackouts in the future.
But, according to a recent reliability assessment, the upcoming summer forecasts may place a similar strain on the power grids. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation reportedly assessed the region, saying it could “face risks of electricity supply shortfalls during periods of more extreme summer conditions.”
Congressional District 5, which Strong represents, falls into the SERC-Central category on the assessment map above, which is shown as having an elevated risk. The region including District 5 is the only southeast region that isn’t listed as low risk in the assessment.
This concern about seasonal strain is what Strong says led him to write to Jeffrey Lyash, the President and CEO of TVA. Should temperatures be outside the normal range due to some weather event, Strong states he is worried that the people of North Alabama may once again find themselves subject to rolling blackouts.
Strong writes “Given North Alabama’s burgeoning economy and population growth, we must ensure that our infrastructure can meet the needs of existing and incoming government organizations, business entities, residents, and all those wishing to make North Alabama their home.”
The letter is addressed to Lyash, but copies members of the TVA Board of Directors as well. In it, Strong issues a request that TVA provides his office with any details regarding short-term steps the company has taken to ensure the grid remains fully operational and customers experience no interruptions.
Rep. Strong goes on to acknowledge the TVA’s willingness to address what happened after Winter Storm Elliott but states that he is “skeptical that proposed solutions will adequately address potential near-term resiliency insufficiencies of the power grid that services North Alabama.”
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To view the full assessment by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, you can see the 2023 Summer Reliability Report here. For more on the TVA’s plan to avoid future rolling blackouts, you can read News 19’s full story here.