EDITOR'S NOTE: Wednesday, we told you it would probably happen -- and it did. It seems the Tennessee Valley Authority set an all-time record for energy demand in a 24-hour period today. The cold weather Thursday morning set a new peak demand record at 9 a.m. when temperatures across the 7-state TVA region averaged just 14 degrees. And as you might expect, with all of this cold weather, the TVA once again asked customers to voluntarily use less energy. But for some, it was too little too late, especially for one family in the Auburn community. WTVA's Mike Russell venutred out into the "frozen tundra," and came back with their story.
AUBURN COMMUNITY, Miss. (WTVA) - It was snother very chilly day in North Mississippi. And just about the time folks were needing more power instead of less, they were struck with...a power outage.
"It was getting very chilly in here, and I went around and made sure all the kids were still covered up," recalls Andrea Barber on the early morning outage. "And of course, the colder it got, the further they went down under the blankets."
Such was the Barber house in the Auburn area when the outage around 5:50am Thursday morning. The Barbers are Tombigbee Power Association customers - so I investigated further. Authorities there unavailable for comment, but a TVA statement earlier had urged customers -- as part of an electrical curtailment program -- to turn their thermostats down to 60, and limit their use of non-essential lights and appliances.
Meanwhile, back at the Barber home, things appeared dicey a half-hour into the shortage.
"I waited around about 30 minutes and [the electricity] still didn't come on," said Andrea Barber. "So I texted my husband to let him know that the power had gone out - and that's when he told me to open the cabinet doors -- you know, for the sinks -- to make sure the pipes didn't freeze."
For the Barber kids, already staying home from school, the outage was still a bit of an inconvenience.
"I was asleep when it went out, but then it woke me up - and I was like, 'What's going on?'' said 12 year-old Will Rilee Barber. "And I woke up and I looked at my TV, and it was off. I was like, 'Durn, the power's out.'"
Of course, for some, like 11 year-old McKenna Barber, a power outage is a non-event.
"I didn't know that there was a power outage because I usually sleep through everything," she said.
TVA issued their power reduction request - part of if "curtailment" program - Tuesday around 3pm. Here's how it read:
Tennessee Valley Authority has initiated its Electric Load Curtailment Plan (ELCP) Step 20 of the TVA/TVPPA Emergency Load Curtailment Program.
The program started Tuesday, January 16 at 3 p.m.
Arctic cold temperatures have moved into the service territory with temperatures reaching the teens and with wind chills below zero.
This plan requires all customers in the TVA service territory to conserve their use of electric power as much as possible. Conservation during peak hours is to continue until notified by TVA.
We are asking all electric power consumers--commercial and industrial--to cooperate in reducing power usage during this critical situation.
• Postpone using electric appliances such as dishwashers, dryers, and cooking equipment.
• Reduce the use of electric heating by adjusting thermostats to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Turn off non-essential lights, appliances, and other electrical equipment.
Voluntary reductions are needed to help ensure a continued supply of power to essential services throughout the Tennessee Valley and to avoid interruptions in service.
TVA is using all available resources, including the purchase of available power from neighboring utilities.
So...curtailment programs not all that unusual. Power associations issue them when they see the need coming. Sometimes, though, there’s just not enough electricity to go around. The good news is, it's usually back on fairly quickly.