Rolling blackouts coming due to ‘unprecedented demand’

Utilities across state affected by TVA request to curtail power

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority has asked its customers to reduce electric power usage due to “unprecedented demands on the power system,” hours after the region plunged into a deep freeze overnight.

Memphis Light, Gas and Water said it will begin implementing rolling blackouts at 11:30 a.m. Friday to conserve power, the utility says.

Service will be interrupted up to 30 minutes, and customers may experience outages up to two times a day. Critical services such as water plants, hospitals and airports will be exempted.

MLGW says its supplier TVA has asked it to curtail electricity load between 5 and 10 percent.

“The extreme cold temperatures and high demand across the TVA service territory have caused a critical power supply situation,” MLGW stated in a press release.

TVA confirmed the intermittent outages in a post on its Facebook page at 11:30 a.m., and asked all customers to immediately reduce electric power use as much as possible.

“We are asking for everyone’s help in ensuring the power grid remains stable for us all,” TVA said.

The TVA provided additional context:

  • Extremely cold temperatures across the region are creating unprecedented demands on the power system.
  • In the spirit of the holiday season, we are asking for everyone’s help in ensuring the power grid remains stable for us all.
  • We are asking businesses and the public to help by immediately reducing electric power use as much as possible without sacrificing safety.
  • TVA and local power companies are also proactively taking steps to temporarily reduce power supplies to certain local areas, which may create intermittent, brief power outages to homes and businesses on a rolling basis.
  • The specifics of any potential interruptions are managed by each local power company.
  • The entire TVA team is actively working with local power companies and other regional utilities to minimize the duration of this event.
  • 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.
  • We’ll continue to monitor this evolving situation and will communicate any additional information on TVA social media channels and through your local power company.

Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman on his Facebook page Friday called the rolling blackout order a historic event. He said all the mayors in Shelby County received word Friday morning.

“This procedure has NEVER happened, so this is new to everyone including MLGW,” the mayor wrote.

Another electric utility company serving several West Tennessee counties said it has been requested to implement rolling blackouts Friday to avoid major outages.

Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation said service to an area will be interrupted for 15 minutes, restored, and interrupted in a different area.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience,” the company said.

Utility companies in other parts of Tennessee are reporting the rolling blackouts.

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