The hottest day of the summer Tuesday pushed up electricity use in the Tennessee Valley to the highest peak in August in more than seven years.
TVA said Tuesday's peak demand for power reached 29,568 megawatts at 4 p.m., when heat indexes across much of the seven-state TVA region topped 100 degrees, although the average temperature across the Tennessee Valley reached only 94 degrees Fahrenheit due to scattered storms across the Valley Tuesday afternoon and evening.
In Lebanon, the high reached 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
TVA's power demand Tuesday was the highest August peak for TVA since August 1, 2012. But TVA spokeswoman Malinda Hunter said Wednesday the utility met the peak without any request or implementation of conservation measures other than TVA's own internal suspension of most maintenance work on its power plants from 8 p.m. Monday to 8 p.m. Tuesday to limit the chances of any outages.
TVA has all seven of its nuclear reactors at full power and is relying upon other output from its natural gas, coal, hydro, and solar generators, along with its contracts for purchased gas, wind and solar power.
"We saw this heatwave a week out so we were able to prepare in advance making sure that Tennessee Valley residents were able to stay cool," Patrick Walshe, TVA's transmission resource operations and analysis manager, said in a statement today.
TVA's peak power demand Tuesday was still far below the utility's all-time power peak reached in the summer of 2007 when temperatures across the Valley averaged 102 degrees Fahrenheit and the peak demand jumped to 33,482 megawatts from heavy electricity consumption for air conditioners.
According to the Energy Information Administration, almost all Tennessee households use air conditioning equipment, with over 80% using central air conditioners and a small portion using window or wall units.
But improved energy efficiency of heat pumps, air conditioners, appliances and machines, combined with the closing of some major electric-powered manufacturers in previous years, have combined to cut overall power demand in the Tennessee Valley below the peaks reached prior to the Great Recession a decade ago.
TVA, which increased its electricity sales through most of its 86-year history, is now forecasting stabe to declining electricity demand for the next two decades as energy efficiency of machines, air conditioners and appliances continues to improve and distributed energy from solar, wind and other self-generated power increases.