TVA reaches record electricity usage during the cold

Electricity network problems

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - We were in the single digits for most of Tuesday across the Tri-Cities, and that's causing a lot of people to turn up the heat and stay inside.

With record cold temperatures comes a record demand for electricity. "If you can't make it and you can't buy it, that means that the only thing that's going to happen is you risk the power going off," says JT McSpadden with the Johnson City Power Board.

The Tennessee Valley Authority reached record electricity usage Tuesday morning; that's why they were asking customers to reduce usage for a short period. "When that happens routinely, they'll ask for us to contact our customers and say can you take individual efforts and individual efforts to lower your usage," adds Bristol Virginia Utilities Interim CEO Mike Bundy.

The reduction request affected customers with Johnson City Power Board, Bristol, Tennessee Essential Services, and Bristol, Virginia Utilities. Since it's been lifted, the companies are encouraging people to cut down power and that could save you money. "For every degree that you reduce your thermostat in the winter, you may receive upwards of 5 percent of savings," says McSpadden.

That's what BVU customer Richard Jones is doing. "They wear a short-sleeve shirt or something, and they turn the heat up. To compensate for that, you dress a little warmer inside and you turn your heat down," he told us.

Bundy says another tip is waiting to wash your clothes and dishes until midday -- that could help the usage in the morning. "If they would just all turn their thermostats down a few degrees, unplug unnecessary appliances, the impact across the entire Tennessee Valley Authority could be huge," he said.

All the electric companies tell us that while they did see increase in the amount of power used, they aren't close to their limits.

Appalachian Power is also asking customers to conserve electricity especially between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, because that's when there is the greatest demand for power.

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