Looking back at a historical event: A letter to our members from CEO/GM Jennifer Brogdon
The events of Friday and Saturday, Dec. 23 and 24, were highly unusual.
Winter Storm Elliot brought record-cold temperatures to much of the country in what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called a “historic arctic outbreak.” Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation and our power supplier, the Tennessee Valley Authority, set new winter records for energy demand. Most unusual, though — for the first time in its 90-year history — TVA issued a call for rolling blackouts.
Amid the brutally cold weather and record high energy use, TVA had multiple power generation plants unexpectedly go offline. It was a serious situation, and the Tennessee Valley region needed more energy than could be generated. When energy demand exceeds supply, catastrophic damage can occur to the power grid, resulting in long-term and widespread power outages.
The quick action of UCEMC employees protected our community and the region from large and extended power outages. Our team followed an existing, carefully engineered plan to reduce our system load in a controlled fashion. While this resulted in temporary power outages for some of our consumers, the event’s impacts could have been far worse.
Line workers, system operators, and engineers sprang into action. Crews went out into extreme conditions to operate equipment and manage the situation. Their efforts minimized the impact on families, businesses, and critical infrastructure.
It’s hard to be good at something you have never done before, and we are using this as a learning opportunity. UCEMC is evaluating how our team can perform better should we be called upon to do this again.
More importantly, we are working with TVA to ensure that our community has the energy it needs when it is needed.
You depend on UCEMC to ensure the lights come on when you flip the switch. For some of you on Dec. 23 and 24, that didn’t happen. We take this seriously and ask for your grace as we learn lessons from this historic event.
In Your Service,