NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been almost a year since Penny Anderson experienced a Christmas she’ll never forget.
“We had (those) terrible long days of just subarctic temperatures,” she said. “Then with all of the growth and with all of the issues and the fire at the power substation, it was just an awful time.”
Many people felt frustrated at how Nashville Electric Service (NES) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) handled the situation.
“We want to make sure the best we can that what happened back in December doesn’t happen again,” said Adam May.
May, who works for TVA, said they’ve invested over $8 million this summer preparing for the winter.
“Current measures have been insulating those lines (and) insulating instrumentation,” he said.
TVA said they added and upgraded insulation and built enclosures around equipment exposed to the elements.
They said they’ve also modernized heat trace technology, which is the addition of heated electrical cabling along pipes and tubing to prevent freezing of liquids and sensitive instrumentation.
During a town hall held in January of this year, the TVA revealed sensors at its coal plant froze for the first time ever during last year’s blackout, leading them to make needed upgrades.
“We’ve even sought additional sensory equipment….so that folks working the control room will be able to see when a problem may be developing,” said May. “They can get out ahead of it and stop it before something freezes up.”
TVA said next year they also plan to invest $35 million in upgrades that will help them be better prepared for cold weather.
“The intention is for the entire fleet to be able to operate in weather conditions of up to negative 20 Fahrenheit, and winds of 20 miles per hour or greater for at least 48 hours,” said May.
Anderson said she has experienced minor blackout issues that lasted up until this summer.
“I’ve been happy with the improvements that have been made so far,” she said.
Anderson added while many of her neighbors have already purchased generators for the winter, she’s holding out hope this Christmas will go much smoother than last year’s.
“I don’t know if I feel confident, but I’m absolutely going in with optimism and I’m hoping for the best, but we’re preparing for the worst,” she said.
News 2 did reach out to NES to learn more about how they are preparing for the winter. Their team sent the following statement:
At NES, we plan year-round for extreme weather events, including heat waves in the summer, frigid temperatures in the winter and storms all year. We consistently make infrastructure and technology upgrades to keep the pace of our rapidly growing region so we can continue to provide safe, reliable and affordable power to all customers.
Specific upgrades for the Southeast substation include updating controls that were damaged in the fire, extensive maintenance on equipment, distribution line repairs and vegetation management near the site.
You can find more details on the improvements TVA has made over the summer here.