LCUB monitoring power use in frigid temperatures

MONA NAIR-6 News Reporter -LENOIR CITY (WATE) TVA is asking people to reduce their electric use because of the high demand caused by the extreme cold.

There were extra crews out monitoring substations Thursday night trying to keep lights from flickering. They were also trying to keep the heat on in homes.

When customers turn up the heat on a cold night, they're using more power.

When too many people do that within a certain time frame, it can cause a system overload.

Manager of the Electric Department, Craig Dunn, showed us around one substation that serves roughly 5,000 customers in Roane and Loudon Counties.

Each time you turn on an appliance, he showed us how it affects one of the breakers.

"We have one breaker with good balance and another one with bad balance," he said, showing us first a breaker where all three dials had the same reading. That was the breaker with good balance.

Then he showed us another breaker where all three dials had significantly different readings.

"That's bad. And as it gets colder, it will get worse," he explained about how that would be a breaker they'd be keeping an eye on.

"If there's a situation where there's high energy use at one station, there's opportunities in our system where our engineer will shed load from one substation and put it on another substation," said LCUB General Manager Shannon Littleton.

For the most part the whole grid can be monitored by computer, managed by staff working round the clock.

"Tonight we'll have crews working and we'll be prepared. We will also have crews on call," Littleton said.

The effort to keep the public's lights on also require some crews to do repairs outside, and that's not fun with frigid temperatures.

"It's difficult. Our linemen have to go outside for problems, and there's only so much time before you become really cold," Dunn said.

LCUB says their system reaches its peak in the summer. So, while there are a lot of people using more power for cold weather right now, it's still not as high as the amount of power used in the peak of the summer.