KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One lawmaker is asking for answers after the Tennessee Valley Authority decided to re-instate rolling blackouts as temperatures dropped below freezing this past weekend.
Those outages lasted about 15 minutes but some of the damage caused during the rolling blackouts has cost some people days of repairs as they fix busted pipes and heating units.
Representative Tim Burchett (TN-2) believes the TVA should have done more to prevent the rolling blackouts.
“When it gets down to five degrees, that’s when you really need the power. So they would shut the power off to allow, I guess, to catch up and then they’d power back up. But the problem is, once you cut the power off like their heaters, sometimes they don’t come back on,” he said.
That’s exactly what happened on Burchett’s own property.
He said two pipes in his barn froze and busted due to his heaters not coming back on after the blackouts.
“It’s life and death for some people. You know, I’m okay. I’m going to fix it or I’m going to get a plumber out here but a lot of people can’t. You have people who have older houses and things. A leak like this or a water main busts in their house, that’s devastating.”
He reached out to the TVA in a letter asking why the TVA was unprepared to deal with the increased power demand.
“I would like to know what was the causes behind this and what are the solutions,” he said.
Burchett said he believes that putting more attention on coal energy may be part of a solution.
“With coal, we can get it out of the ground in this area and it provides jobs and also vital heating and electricity during a crucial time,” he added.
TVA released a statement Thursday taking ‘full responsibility’ for the rolling blackouts. The federally owned utility corporation said they are conducting a thorough review to ensure they are more prepared in the future.
The rolling blackouts affected many East Tennessee power companies such as the Harriman Utility Board, the City of Oak Ridge, Sevier County Electric and the Knoxville Utility Board.
TVA’s power service territory covers 80,000 square miles across Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia.
TVA released a statement following Burchett’s letter to the CEO and President Jeffery Lyash.