NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Investigations are well underway into what caused the December 2022 blackouts in Tennessee when temperatures dropped abruptly.
One of the hardest hit areas was South Nashville. Their council member is leading a crusade to make sure her residents don’t go through that again.
“I started getting phone calls relatively quickly from people telling me, ‘I have ben out of power for more than 10 minutes. It’s been an hour. It’s been two hours,” Councilwoman Joy Styles, District 32, told News 2’s Mark Kelly.
Styles said she received pleas for help practically non-stop.
The Cane Ridge substation had caught on fire, which serves around 20,000 customers in her district.
“We ended up telling them, NES (Nashville Electric Service) is going to have lights back on by five o’clock, which did not happen. And people ended up staying in their homes not wanting to risk black ice travel, and not having heat and not having light. For some people that lasted until Christmas,” she recalled.
While the fire was extinguished, Styles has criticized NES for moving its crews to other, what she calls “less hard hit,” parts of the city before getting the Cane Ridge area back on the grid.
“If I’m still having to call you and tell you there are still homes that are without power or whole streets, or whole complexes, you haven’t finished your job. So, come back,” she said.
In the weeks following the winter storm, she hosted a town hall for residents to describe what happened to them to the utility company.
News 2 has reached out to NES for an on-camera interview, but they declined with the following statement:
Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate your request for an interview. However, we would be happy to respond to any questions you may have for your series in writing.
Meanwhile, Styles said she has met with NES and is hopeful progress will be made.
“I feel better having had the conversation with both NES and TVA. I believe that they are really focused on the southeast now in a way they haven’t been. And that matters,” she said.
Here’s a list of changes she’s pushing for:
- $6 million investment in southside’s electric grid
- Monthly meetings updating residents on how that money is spent
- Deploying a text message system that would help power companies communicate better with customers
“We couldn’t stop nature. Mother Nature is Mother Nature. But, how we communicate what we are going to do in a Mother Nature event, that’s where the difference is made,” she continued, “and that’s where the frustration from many of the constituents came from.”
TVA admitted lack of communication was one of the biggest lessons learned.