MLGW rolls back rolling blackouts

By , Daily Memphian Updated: December 23, 2022 7:17 PM CT | Published: December 23, 2022 12:21 PM CT

This story has been superseded by MLGW preps to restart rolling blackouts

Moments before MLGW president and CEO Doug McGowen took the microphone at a noon Friday, Dec. 23, press conference, the Tennessee Valley Authority rescinded its requirement for rolling blackouts.

“There will be no rolling blackouts for the foreseeable future,” CEO and President Doug McGowen said.

Watch today’s MLGW/City of Memphis weather press conference

TVA can require its local power companies to reduce its electric load by between 5% and 10% during extreme temperatures and high demand to avoid widespread outages.

This order was the first of its kind from the TVA. 

“This is a common phenomenon in other parts of the country, but this is the first time that we’ve ever had to do that here in recent history — at least the last 40 to 50 years,” McGowen said.

Under the previous blackout plan, service to areas would have been interrupted for 30 minutes to an hour at a time with each area experiencing such outages twice a day on average. 

He apologized for the lack of notice to customers but said MLGW only learned of the order around 9:30 a.m. on Friday. Power should be restored for anyone whose power was artificially terminated.

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“To help ensure the continued reliability of the regional power system, TVA and local power companies are proactively taking steps to temporarily reduce power supplies to localized areas. These actions may create short, temporary power outages in certain areas,” TVA said in a statement. 

McGowen attended his first board meeting as president two days prior, when he said the utility didn’t anticipate widespread power outages as severe cold weather descended on the area. 

If MLGW is required to implement rolling blackouts again under TVA’s order, the utility won’t be able to predict where or when they’ll occur, but McGowen said MLGW will do its best to give customers an approximate schedule. 

In the meantime, MLGW customers are encouraged to voluntarily limit their power load in the meantime. Washing machines and dryers are a significant source of power, and any extraneous power use should be eliminated.

“It is still a very tenuous situation across the entire South with this deep freeze,” he said.

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Keely Brewer

Keely Brewer

Keely Brewer is a Report for America corps member covering environmental impacts on communities of color in Memphis. She is working in partnership with the Ag & Water Desk, a sustainable reporting network aimed at telling water and agriculture stories across the Mississippi River Basin.


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