Rollin', rollin', rollin' blackouts in...Tennessee?!

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Hold on there, pardner! Rolling blackouts are a thing for latte liberal Californians and touchy-feely Texans and such. Not the down-home, regular folks in the hills around, like, Knoxville…


The Tennessee Valley Authority said Friday that extremely cold temperatures across the region are creating unprecedented demands on the power system.

…”TVA and local power companies are proactively taking steps to temporarily reduce power supplies to certain local areas, which may create brief, intermittent power outages to homes and businesses,” TVA said.

TVA said its team is actively working with local power companies and other regional utilities to minimize the duration of these rolling blackouts.

“We apologize for the inconvenience we know these conditions will cause, especially during a holiday period, but it is a necessary step to prevent far greater power interruptions affecting the entire area,” TVA said.

…where it’s 10° at 1:30 in the afternoon. YOICKS.

Prof. Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, who teaches at the UT College of Law in Knoxville, sounds pretty dang disgusted.

I can’t say as I blame him. Isn’t the TVA supposed to be one of the 8 Wonders of the World? Or at least delivering reliable electrical power as if it were. And they DID promise they’d be ready.

Surely Nashville, the booming metropolis that she is, is better off tha…nope.

Rolling blackouts underway in Nashville

…TVA has directed all utility power distributors in the Tennessee Valley — including Nashville Electric Service (NES) — to drop 5% of their electricity load immediately, officials said.

For the NES service area, which includes Davidson County and surrounding Middle Tennessee counties, NES announced at 11:21 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 23 that it already began its power curtailment.

NES customers should expect rotating, intermittent power outages in roughly 10-minute increments every 90 to 120 minutes until the power load is stabilized.

“TVA’s power generation system is being challenged by the swift-moving cold front that moved into our area overnight. The duration of these dangerously low temperatures also plays a part in system performance,” said Jack Baxter, vice president of operations, NES. “Our ability to proactively manage the grid during this time will help us continue to provide safe and reliable power to Middle Tennessee.”


It’s 7° there at the moment and a friend of mine who lives in the city had thoughts.

Which led me to thoughts: what has the TVA – America’s largest government-owned utility, by the by – given up and replaced that brings them to a place where they have to institute rolling blackouts?

The first thing to consider is the influx of people the region is seeing. According to the TVA’s own webpageHO-LEE-SMOKES! It sounds like everyone who didn’t move to Florida stopped in TN.

…In the first six months of fiscal year 2021, TVA helped attract or retain more than 45,200 jobs and $3.9 billion in investment to the region, not including recent significant news from LG, Milwaukee Tools and Oracle.

In Tennessee, where TVA is headquartered, nearly 20,000 new companies and corporations flooded the state from January to March, according to the University of Tennessee’s Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators Q1 2021 report. That’s a 55 percent jump over the first quarter of 2020, with the fastest growth seen in the state’s smallest counties.

But if you can’t keep the power on, those gains will be fleeting.

The second thing to consider is, again, the fact that the TVA is owned by the federal government. It puts them under extraordinary pressure to go along with whatever the latest “thing” is as far as the clean/renewable energy push goes, and it seems this is where it’s starting to trip them up.


They’re shooting for “net zero” emissions by 2050. Be it 7° or 107°, that should chill every customer’s heart.

In 2005, TVA generated 57 percent of its electricity from coal. Since 2012, TVA has retired six coal plants, which reduced the amount of energy produced by coal to about 14 percent. The utility says it could retire its entire coal fleet by 2035 – pending necessary approvals.

As TVA phases out coal, the utility is investing in solar, nuclear and natural gas. It is also exploring advanced clean-generation technologies as well as upgrades to its 109-unit conventional hydro-electric fleet.

According to Lyash, TVA is a national leader, with 63 percent carbon-free generation – making it the greenest utility in the Southeast with 50 percent more renewable generation than its closest regional peer.

By 2035, TVA plans to add about 10,000 megawatts of solar power. To do this, the utility plans to use natural gas to keep the power system reliable as coal plants retire.

The economic development success of this renewable energy strategy is already evident.

Since 2018, TVA’s Green Invest solar program has attracted nearly $2.7 billion in solar investment and procured over 2,000 megawatts of solar on behalf of its customers, including City of Knoxville, General Motors, Jack Daniels, Facebook, Google and Vanderbilt University.

Two years ago, they were touting their solar acquisitions, but you’ll notice the MWs produced are nowhere near what a plant puts out. Vanderbilt’s array – at 35 MW – is only meant to “offset their…greenhouse gas emissions” from buying electricity, not directly replace the lost generation from a razed coal-fired plant, so…whut?


…TVA spokesman Jim Hopson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that “TVA has expanded its nuclear generation for its baseload capacity, and gas and renewable sources are better suited and cheaper for meeting power peaks.”

TVA has already shut down a majority of the 59 coal-fired units it once operated, cutting the share of its power generated by burning coal from nearly two-thirds of TVA’s generation in the 1980s to 17% of TVA’s generation in fiscal 2019, Hopson said.

TVA continues to operate nine coal-fired units.

In September 2019, TVA, the US Department of the Navy, Silicon Ranch, and the East Mississippi Electric Power Association brought a new 6MW solar facility at the Naval Air Station in Meridian, Mississippi, online.

And two weeks ago, Vanderbilt University committed to a green energy partnership with TVA and Nashville Electric Service for offsite solar. Vanderbilt’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Vanderbilt’s new solar farm will supply up to 35 megawatts of green energy, enough to offset approximately 70% of Vanderbilt’s annual indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchased electricity.


TVA being a federal utility also means environmental groups have an outsized say in influencing policy, and slow-walking their agenda only goes so far. Also, the board of directors is appointed by the incumbent U.S. president and approved by the senate. There were a couple of hardcore humdingers up for that board this past Spring…

…It’s very, very sad for the Tennessee Valley Authority given the state of technological advancement that TVA has historically prided itself on,” [Sen Ed] Markey said during Wednesday’s hearing. “I just don’t like TVA falling so far behind the rest of the nation because I grew up thinking that TVA was really state of the art. It’s pretty obvious that there is no movement here and it seems like TVA is last in the whole country.”

TVA has used its 29 hydroelectric dams and its seven nuclear reactors to get more than 60% of its power from carbon-free sources., which exceeds the carbon reductions of most other utilities. But Markey said the climate crisis requires that TVA do more to both promote energy efficiency and to use more renewable energy sources.

Democrats hope the three new TVA board members named to join the existing five-member board may push the federal utility to do more to limit its carbon footprint. President Joe Biden has called for the electricity industry to be carbon-free by 2035, but TVA expects to be only 80% carbon-free by 2035.

…A year ago, Biden nominated four new members for the TVA board, including Beth Geer, chief of staff to former Vice President Al Gore; Michelle Moore, a sustainability team leader in the administration of former President Barack Obama who now heads a nonprofit that promotes solar energy; and Robert “Bobby” Klein, a retired EPB lineman electrician who was a leader in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union….


…and they were all confirmed – every last radical – yesterday. Gird your loins, TVA customers.

The one saving grace for the moment may be the fact that the previous board delegated the choice of what would replace their largest coal-fired plant to the TVA CEO Jeff Lyash. They were immediately excoriated by groups like the Sierra Club, because Lyash was already leaning towards natural gas. Cue: doom, gloom, and wailing.

America’s largest government-owned utility is looking to replace its biggest coal power plant with more energy-efficient and cleaner natural gas generation to supply the electricity needs of more than 1.1 million homes in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday released a draft environmental report that recommended the best alternative for its aging Cumberland Fossil Plant in Cumberland City, Tennessee, is to shut down the twin-unit coal plant and replace it with a combined-cycle natural gas generating facility.

But environmental groups are urging TVA to abandon the use of any fossil fuels at Cumberland to help meet the U.S. climate-control targets, including President Biden’s pledge that the nation’s electricity industry be carbon free within the next 13 years.

…The Sierra Club said if TVA chooses to build new methane gas plants and pipelines, they would be obsolete in just 10 years due to TVA’s own carbon reduction commitments, leaving TVA ratepayers stuck paying the bill for plants that can’t be used.

“Replacing the Cumberland coal plant with gas is a move back to a time when there weren’t better options available,” JoAnn McIntosh, a Sierra Club volunteer who lives in Clarksville near the Cumberland plant, said in a statement Monday.”Renewable energy and storage can now provide that replacement power as reliably and more economically than gas, and without the environmental impacts that are making our world increasingly less habitable for us and our children.”


They’re not sure when the new members take their seats. The question is will they attempt to put the kibosh on the natural gas, or will it be too far along in the permitting process? I don’t know, but I’ve yet to see a Greenie who lets anything like commonsense and insane cost overruns impede his crusading.

There could be plenty of Texas-style winters coming up, and very warm, California summers in the future for the TVA region. People need to keep abreast of what the board is doing and be ready to react swiftly to register objections on a massive, impossible-to-ignore scale.

This bunch will not consider bringing power to the people their number one priority.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos