Hydro helps beat the heat
Jeff Newsome is unequivocal in his characterization of the value of hydropower: “Even with limited availability due to dry conditions, hydro played a key role in helping TVA meet record power demands this summer.”
As manager of Resource Operations in TVA’s Transmission & Reliability organization, few people would have as great an appreciation for the flexibility and cost-savings represented by hydropower as does Newsome.
“With four straight months of record peak demands, 2006 is proving to be an excellent demonstration of the importance of hydro in our generating mix,” he says. “If current trends continue, this year is on track to be one of the hottest summers for the Tennessee Valley since the early 1980s. To give you an idea of just how challenging it’s been, consider this fact: from mid-July through mid-August, we exceeded 12 of the top 15 all-time peaks in TVA history—including a record-setting 32,008 megawatts on July 18.”
Inexpensive, flexible, and environmentally-friendly hydropower is capable of coming online rapidly—an essential component of responding to peak power demands. Hydro is also important when it comes to maintaining environmental compliance, since releases of cool water help regulate water temperatures around TVA’s fossil and nuclear plants.
It takes teamwork to get the maximum value from every drop of water, says Newsome. “The folks in TVA’s River Forecast Center deserve credit for scheduling releases when hydro is most valuable—during the highest-cost hours of the day when demand is highest. The people at the plants play a crucial role, too. They’re responsible for the day-to-day maintenance needed to ensure that every piece of equipment is in good working order when we need hydro generation. Then there’s the group responsible for remote operation of the plants. They’re on duty 24/7, adjusting generation schedules as power demands change throughout the day.”
Newsome is grateful to have hydropower as a generating resource. “Although our hydro team members can’t control the amount of rain that falls, they add flexibility to TVA’s power system—and, in this line of business, flexibility translates into cost savings. It allows us to meet our peaks without purchasing as much power on the spot market, which can be costly. There’s nothing like a hot, dry summer to make you appreciate what hydro brings to the table.”
Read more about TVA’s hydropower system.
Raccoon Mountain: Reliable and responsive
Newsome refers to TVA’s Raccoon Mountain pumped storage facility as “the flagship of the fleet.”
He says the facility has been used at record levels this summer, and for good reason: “We are able to pump at night when prices are lower, and then release water during peak periods the following day when prices are higher. Since we can bring it online in five minutes time, Raccoon Mountain gives us around 1,600 megawatts of generation at our fingertips. Needless to say, we are certainly glad to have it as part of the power supply equation.”
Read more about the pumped storage plant at Raccoon Mountain.
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