U.S. Rep. Dale Strong (R-Huntsville) is helping Alabamians beat the heat this summer by ensuring the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is ready for the extra load on the power grid.

Strong sent a letter to TVA president and CEO Jeffrey Lyash expressing concern about the high risk of summer blackouts like the ones seen during Winter Storm Elliot last December when unusually low temperatures caused energy usage to skyrocket as families tried to stay warm indoors during Christmas. This led to the TVA's first-ever institution of energy load reductions, or rolling blackouts.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation has warned the same thing could happen in north Alabama this summer as the region is at an "elevated" seasonal risk of power grid stress.

"I remain concerned that, should a weather event occur that places temperatures outside the normal range, the people of North Alabama may find themselves again subject to these rolling blackouts," Strong wrote in his letter. "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."

The TVA claims it has addressed the issues with the grid since last winter, which it detailed in its "Winter Storm Elliott After Action Report." However, Strong said he's not convinced the problems have been completely resolved. 

"I remain skeptical that the proposed solutions adequately address potential near-term resiliency insufficiencies of the power grid that services North Alabama," Strong wrote. "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."

Strong blamed the lack of adequate energy during the winter blackouts partly on the TVA's pursuit of so-called "green energy" and its failure to complete the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Jackson County.

"Over the last several years, the Tennessee Valley Authority has declined to pursue completing the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant and closed two coal-fired plants in North Alabama," Strong told 1819 News last December. "At the time each of these decisions were made, we were assured the TVA had plenty of generating capacity to power the Tennessee Valley."

The TVA is currently seeking public input on three environmental reviews of several projects that it said would "support a cleaner energy future while maintaining affordability, reliability and resiliency."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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