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Fort Payne

Strong ‘concerned’ about rolling blackouts

WASHINGTON — Last December, North Alabama was left shivering during a cold snap when the Tennessee Valley Authority instituted “rolling blackouts.”

The first-ever procedure by the utility left thousands of customers without power as subfreezing weather hit the area.

This summer, the region may face a similar situation, according to a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. The organization assessed the Tennessee Valley as having an “elevated” seasonal risk of power grid stress.

With a typical sweltering summer on the horizon, U.S. Rep. Dale Strong sent a letter to TVA President and CEO Jeffrey Lyash expressing his concern about the resiliency of the power grid.

“Given North Alabama’s burgeoning economy and population growth, we must ensure that our infrastructure can meet the needs of existing and incoming government organizations, business entities, residents, and all those wishing to make North Alabama their home,” he wrote.

TVA initiated a review of its system in December to address its shortcomings during the storm. The agency also said it has created a team to identify opportunities to improve equipment reliability and resiliency in preparation for times of higher power demand.

But, Strong (R-Huntsville), said he has his doubts.

“I remain skeptical that the proposed solutions adequately address potential near-term resiliency insufficiencies of the power grid that services North Alabama,” he said. “As such, I respectfully request that you provide my office with details on the short-term steps TVA has taken to ensure that its grid remains fully operational, and its customers experience no interruption in service.”

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