NASHVILLE — A federal utility’s decision to resort to rolling blackouts after coal and natural gas units went offline during dangerously cold conditions has intensified questions about the Tennessee Valley Authority’s recent decision to double down on fossil fuels.
TVA experienced its highest ever winter peak-power demand on Dec. 23 as an arctic blast brought blinding blizzards, freezing rain and frigid cold from Maine to Seattle. The Tennessee Valley Authority said in an email that a combination of high winds and freezing temperatures caused its coal-burning Cumberland Fossil Plant to go offline at one point when critical instrumentation froze up. A second coal-burning plant, Bull Run, also went offline, TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said in an email, although he did not provide details. The utility “had issues at some of our natural gas units” as well, Brooks said.