Hot weather raises power use, bills but TVA will lower fuel cost in August

This week’s sweltering temperatures pushed up air conditioning use and power consumption to the highest level so far across the Tennessee Valley and will soon put the heat on consumer power bills pushed higher by the July heat.

Although the hot weather is pushing up power use and electric bills, consumers will get some break next month when TVA’s monthly fuel cost adjustment is reduced. Due to more plentiful generation from hydroelectric dams “refueled” by above-average rain this year, TVA will reduce its fuel cost adjustment in August.

“Fuel costs are adjusted based upon previous months’ performance and costs,” TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. “Recently we’ve had a lot of rain, which has helped us generate more cheap hydro power, and we benefited by the addition of the Paradise Gas Plant (in Kentucky), which came on line in May and gave us another cheaper source of fuel.”

For the typical EPB customer who uses 1,295 kilowatthours of electricity a month, the drop will save $2.98 on their monthly bill. But the hotter temperatures will probably still mean the typical monthly power bill is higher during July and August.

Temperatures are expected to rise in Chattanooga into the 90s again today, potentially pushing up TVA power consumption above 29,000 megawatts for the third consecutive day.

TVA’s power peak rose to 29,564 megawatts Thursday afternoon when temperatures across TVA’s 7-state region averaged 94 degrees. Although the peak was the highest so far this year, it was still far short of TVA’s all-time peak reached a decade ago at 33,499 megawatts.

TVA power planners hardly broke a sweat meeting the summertime peaks this week.

“Our fleet is performing well and we don’t anticipate any problems,” TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said today.

More efficient appliances, machines and air conditioners, along with better insulated buildings and more self-generation from solar and wind power, also are helping to keep TVA’s peak demands below historic highs reached in the past, however.

TVA’s previous peak for 2017 was at 28,863 on Jan. 9 when temperatures dipped down to 14 degrees and electric furnaces were running full blast to keep homes and offices warm.

But TVA doesn’t expect to top its all-time peak set in 2007 until at least 2020 or later.

TVA is meeting the summertime peaks so far this year without one of its newest and biggest power plants. The Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor, which started up for the first time last October, has been out of service since the structural supports of a refurbished condenser failed in March. Hopson said TVA is nearing the completion of repairs “on the damaged equipment on the non-nuclear portion of the reactor.

“We hope to soon complete the repairs and get the unit back on line,” Hopson said.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340.

This story was updated July 21 at 11:15 p.m. with more information.

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