A bomb cyclone of arctic weather dubbed winter storm Elliott hammered the nation and Alabama over the Christmas holiday, bringing fridge temperatures and dreaded power outages in Southern states and the Northern parts of Alabama.
While Duke Power in the Carolinas and TVA in Tennessee and Northern Alabama were forced to implement intentional power outages—called “rolling blackouts”— to preserve the companies’ power grid, the same was not true for Alabama Power which only experienced minimal customer interruptions and no “rolling blackouts.”
Alabama Power Media Relations Manager Alyson Tucker attributes the company’s success to long-term planning, a diverse energy mix and proactive measures before any major weather event.
“Winter Storm Elliott created significant challenges for the entire utility industry,” said Tucker in an email to APR. “Preliminary data shows the extreme temperatures set an all-time winter peak in energy usage for Alabama Power.”
Tucker said the company experienced a “trying few days,” but “our team’s planning and preparation helped us provide the reliable service our customers depend on.”
“Our teams responded to the call, leaving their families during the holidays to be sure customers across the state could be safe and warm with their families,” Tucker said.
According to Tucker, the company’s proactive measures are protecting generating units and preparing them for high-demand seasons. “Long-term planning and investment in our transmission and distribution systems play an important role in reliability during such events.”
Tucker also said it was the company’s investment “in a diverse energy mix, that helped it provide reliable services to customers during extreme temperatures.”
“We incorporate seasonal planning to address both summer and winter conditions into our ongoing, detailed analysis of the state’s energy needs, including peak load and energy forecasts, to best serve our customers and plan for generation needs during increased demand,” explained Tucker.
Duke Power and TVA saw between 180,000 and more than 100,000 customers respectively without service while Alabama Power had only a few thousand subscribers experiencing any interruption.
So dire was the situation in Tennessee that the NFL pushed back the start time of the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans game in Nashville for one hour due to rolling blackouts caused by the weather that strained TVA’s electrical grid.
Tucker says Alabama Power’s proactive stance allowed it to avoid problems experienced by surrounding states and North Alabama.
Winter storm Elliott was a generational weather event of which Alabama has seen many. Long-term planning, energy diversity and readiness were the watchwords that kept the lights on for most in Alabama.