By PowerMag.com – On Wednesday, January 17, 2024, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), one of the nation’s largest power generation and transmission utilities in the southeast, reached an all-time record-breaking winter “peak power demand of 34,526 MW,” while the average temperature across the Tennessee valley region (7 state territory) was at “4 degrees F.”
TVA’s previous peak power demand record was set in August 2007 reaching a summer peak power “demand of 33,482 MW.” TVA also set another previous “winter peak power demand record at the end of 2023 (December 23, 2022) during the Winter Storm Elliott with a demand of 33,400 MW,” which spiraled into power generation shortages resulting in a series of rolling blackouts across the region.
With the higher peak power demand forecasted in early 2024, “TVA urged its 10 million customers to be aware of their power consumption” and to cut back on energy usage during the early morning hours. At this time, all of TVA’s generating units were operating adequately while maintaining a stable electric power grid. “TVA had invested $123 million over the past few months” in better preparation for this winter compared to the winter just a year ago.
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A recent NPR article warns that much of the nation’s power grid is vulnerable to the winter threat approaching with major winter storms that could cause power outages and power shortages potentially affecting over 60% of US and Canada.
“North America’s power grid is vulnerable…People living in Southwestern states are at particular risk.”
TVA’s load growth demand forecasted is expecting over a 30% increase in power demand within the next decade. Like other utilities trending away from fossil fuel power generation due to stringent carbon emission regulations, TVA is retiring their coal-powered plants and replacing with cleaner energy generation and renewable resources.
The trend of moving away from older fossil fuel technology to cleaner generation systems is very costly. TVA recognizes this and has approved moving forward with capital expenditures of $15 billion that it will invest over the next 3 years by performing system reliability upgrades and transition into cleaner energy supply.
The US Electrical Grid Infrastructure continues to be vulnerable to cyber attackers and foreign nation state adversaries in attempts to bring havoc on power systems that supply other critical infrastructures.
Cyber security protection continues to be a major focus on power utilities and other critical systems. These cyber threats continue after power companies and their contractors as in the recent attacks.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued “new mandatory standards for inverter-based resources (IBRs) in an effort to enhance the reliability of the bulk electric system. IBRs are solar photovoltaic, wind, fuel cell and battery storage resources that use power electronic devices to change direct current power to alternating current power, to be transmitted on the bulk-power system.
In its November 17 action orders, FERC focused on three IBR-relateded actions:
An order directing the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) to develop a plan to register the entities that own and operate IBRs;
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to direct NERC to develop reliability standards for IBRs that cover data sharing, model validation, planning and operational studies, and performance requirements; and
An order approving reliability standards that are related to IBRs, which NERC proposed earlier in 2022.”