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Power Demand in the Tennessee Valley

Updated on August 6, 2007

The Tennessee valley is currently facing the highest temperatures of the year so far. Highs in the 90's, heat index expected to reach over 105, its not a comfortable place to be. Granted other places are hotter, but in Tennessee as in much of the southeast, the humidity is the deal breaker. Air so humid, so unmoving it takes your breath away at times.

The first part of the year was the driest in over 118 years. Due to this heat, hydro generation is down over 54% of normal, and the rivers, reservoirs and lakes are well below average. Hydro is TVA's cheapest form of generation, and having this cut in half may make them buy more expensive power from elsewhere.

It is expected that the current heat wave ( which is expected to last the next week or longer ) could possible task TVA's system. It is projected to exceed the record setting of 31,703 megawatts, set in July 2005. During that record setting, they provided power without a single interruption to clients. Will this year be any different? Will they be able to meet the demand with hydro down?

Currently to supply power, TVA uses Fossil Fuel plants ( 15,000 megawatts of capacity ), Nuclear ( 6,900 megawatts ), Hydro ( which varies based on water ) and Green power ( solar and wind). With water levels down, hardly any air moving for wind generation, TVA will have to rely on their other plants, and possibly buy more expensive power from other generation groups.

TVA has a good solid record, and there is no reason to believe they cannot handle this upcoming demand. However, everybody needs to do their part to conserve while they can. Don't water your yard, wash your car, or fill your pools during the heat of the day. Keep your thermostat above 71 degrees, keep your windows and doors shut, invest in a programmable thermostat, use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, take showers not baths, and many other little things we can do to conserve energy.

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