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Unit 1 shuts down with demand for electricity at historic highs

By Eric Fleischauer · 340-2435

A weekend shutdown of Browns Ferry Unit 1 continued Monday, cutting TVA power during a week when demand is at historic highs.

At 5:51 p.m. Saturday, a connection that helps monitor the re-circulation flow through the Unit 1 reactor failed. The failure triggered an automatic shutdown.

“The unit responded as it should have,” said Browns Ferry spokesman Jason Huffine.

“The connection has since been replaced. We started working on it Saturday evening and worked through the day Sunday to prepare the unit to get back online.”

Making up lost power

TVA had to replace the power immediately, said TVA senior spokesman John Moulton.

It did so with stored hydroelectric power from the Raccoon Mountain pump storage project, hydroelectric generation from Wheeler and Wilson dams, and a collection of gas- and oil-fired turbines.

Since Saturday, Moulton said, TVA has purchased electricity on the market to make up for the Unit 1 shortfall.

TVA coal plants are operating at capacity.

“All of our fossil units are performing very well,” Moulton said.

“They broke a record because they were online simultaneously for more than six days. The record is ongoing.”

Unit 1 generates enough
electricity to power 650,000 homes.

Moulton said if TVA anticipates peak demand exceeding its production capacity, it can exercise provisions in contracts with major area industries to curtail power.

So far this summer, he said, that has not been necessary.

“We’re doing what we can to bring the unit back online,” Huffine said. “The goal is to get the unit started up to ease the power demand on the grid.”

Huffine said he expected Unit 1 to go back online soon, but could not specify when.

It will return to service in gradually increased power increments.

TVA had its highest demand ever last week, and Moulton said it could break that record Wednesday, when temperatures as high as 105 degrees are forecast.

The demand last week hit 32,888 megawatts. Unit 1 produces 1,155 megawatts.

“So far we’ve had the power,” Moulton said, “but in a situation like this where it just stays hot continuously, it’s more of a strain on the transmission lines, on the power plants.”

TVA is taking energy reduction measures in-house — including raising thermostats and dimming lights — and is encouraging residential and bus-iness consumers to do the same.

TVA uses the Raccoon Mountain pump storage facility, near Chattanooga, to store energy.

During periods of low demand, it pumps water from Nickajack Reservoir at the base of the mountain to a reservoir built at the top.

It takes 28 hours to fill the upper reservoir.

When Unit 1 shut down Saturday, TVA released water into a tunnel drilled through the center of the mountain to drive generators in the mountain’s underground power plant.

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