TVA releases statement after U.S. Congressman Burchett sends letter following blackouts

East Tennesseans are still waiting for answers after the Tennessee Valley Authority had to implement rolling blackouts over the Christmas weekend.
Congressman Tim Burchett
Congressman Tim Burchett(Tim Burchett)
Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 9:51 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 28, 2022 at 10:33 PM CST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - East Tennesseans are still waiting for answers after the Tennessee Valley Authority had to implement rolling blackouts over the Christmas weekend. The blackouts came amid the worst freeze the state had seen in years and left several thousands without power.

Rep. Tim Burchett sent a letter to Jeffery Lyash, TVA CEO, Tuesday, asking for answers.

“TVA appears to have been caught completely flat-footed, which resulted in service disruption for thousands of Tennesseans and other residents within the TVA service area,” Burchett wrote. “I hope you agree that this is unacceptable.”

Letter from Rep. Burchett to TVA
Letter from Rep. Burchett to TVA(Tim Burchett)

TVA officials asked several power companies who get their energy from them to implement rolling blackouts over the weekend. That meant that companies like Knoxville utilities board had to shut off power for 15 and 30-minute increments when the state was seeing single-digit temperatures. At the time, TVA officials said the blackouts were necessary to avoid larger-scale power outages.

Burchett himself said he saw power outages over the weekend, taking to Twitter to say pipes froze in his barn.

“Very little, very little,” Burchett said when asked about what information he got from a phone conversation with the TVA CEO. “You know they’re working on it, they know they got a problem, [Lyash] will take responsibility.”

WVLT News reached out to the TVA multiple times during the blackouts and the following days, but representatives said they could not speak until they had investigated the situation fully.

In a later update Wednesday, TVA officials sent out a statement about the incident- the most they have commented since the weekend.

We at TVA take full responsibility for the impact we had on our customers. We never want to impact anyone’s energy at any time. This is not the way we want to serve our communities and customers.

We are conducting a thorough review of what occurred and why. We are committed to sharing these lessons learned and – more importantly – the corrective actions we take in the weeks ahead to ensure we are prepared to manage significant events in the future.

With sustained record-breaking cold temperatures and high winds, winter storm “Elliott” strained power grids across the nation late last week. During a 24-hour period on Friday, Dec. 23, TVA supplied more power than at any other time in its nearly 90-year history. This event also produced the highest winter power peak in TVA history.

It was also the first time in TVA’s 90-year history that we’ve had to direct targeted load curtailments due to extreme power demand.

On two occasions during a 24-hour period, TVA directed local power companies to reduce power consumption. On Friday, Dec. 23, a 5 percent system-wide power consumption reduction for two hours and 15 minutes. And on Saturday, Dec. 24, a system-wide power consumption reduction in 5-10 percent curtailments for 5 hours and 40 minutes. Most of the local power companies were able to target power reductions that impacted customers for relatively short durations. We greatly appreciate their partnership and support throughout this event.

We will learn from this unprecedented event and are committed to providing you with the reliable service you expect and deserve.


TVA representatives have told WVLT News that they’re looking into the situation.