“Northeast Tennessee can have a little bit of winter. Sometimes, it falls on a weekend.” I have said that, during a cool snap, ever since Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I returned from Russia (10/1/1994 - 9/30/1999).
Welcome to a northeast Tennessee winter weekend! It started yesterday (Friday, 12/23/2022). December had been mild, with lows in the 20s to 40s Fahrenheit (F) and highs in the 40s and 50sF. Yesterday, in our neck of the woods, the low was 5F (-15 Celsius) and the high was 10F (-12 Celsius). This morning, the low was 3F (-16 Celsius). It looks like the high will be in the low 20sF (-5 or -6 Celsius).
Tomorrow, Christmas day, the weather prognosticators predict the low to be in the mid-teens (about -9 Celsius) and the high to be about 30F (-1 Celsius). They claim that the warming trend will continue, until lows reach the 30s to 50sF and the highs reach the 40s to 60sF. Our winter weekend may stretch into five days – but not a full week.
Our “Brave” Excursions into the “Frigid” Weather
Yesterday, about 1 PM, I walked to the mailbox, to flag up our annual homeowners insurance payment. The temperature was 6F (-14 Celsius). The sun was shining brightly. A cold breeze was blowing. I had on blue jeans, a T-shirt, and a sweatshirt, with socks and shoes. I stayed out in the front yard a while, enjoying the crisp air and sunshine. If I'd been out longer, I would have needed a coat. About 5 PM, I walked to the mailbox, to get Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's Kohl's bill (for a Christmas gift). The temperature was still 6F (-14 Celsius), but the sun had gone behind the ridge to our north, and the wind was stronger. Molly, bravely, ventured out with me. We didn't waste any time, getting back indoors! The lack of sun and the stronger wind were the differences. In the afternoon, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman had driven, bravely, to visit her folks. She also had gone last minute Christmas shopping, bravely, with her youngest sister, who had come in on Thursday.
Today, about noon, I walked to the mailbox, to get the junk mail. The temperature was about 10F (-12 Celsius). The sun shined brightly. There was no wind. I had on the same type of clothes as yesterday. It felt great! Molly, however, chose not to enjoy the balmy temperature with me. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman was backing out the garage to go visit her folks. Please, dear, don't come back to tell me that you also shopped for that final, last second Christmas present that you didn't buy yesterday!
How does this involve TVA rolling blackouts? I'll explain and comment. I will conclude by transitioning to the 12/23/2022 family gathering and to final thoughts on Christmas Eve.
Rolling Blackouts, 12/23-24/2022
Yesterday morning, while cleaning up, I heard the WQUT-FM (Tri-Cities classic rock) disc jockey mention that the rolling blackouts had taken the station off air for 15 minutes. Later, at 12:01 PM, we had a rolling blackout that lasted 15 minutes. No notice was given. We had to take our “collectively equal share” of the “collective suffering.” Thankfully, we had no more blackouts.
Today, we have had two rolling blackouts so far – 8:10-30 AM (five minutes longer than the dictated 15 minutes) and 11:00-15 AM. My youngest brother called, after our second blackout, to say that they had endured three already today. We had no notice, before the blackouts. My computer has had three KUB reboots so far (one yesterday and two today).
Yesterday and today, around the blackouts, I did some internet searching. I'll cite a couple of sources.
“TVA resumes rolling blackouts across East Tennessee,” on WATE-TV, by Hope McAlee, posted 12/23/2022, 11:55 AM EST; updated 12/24/2022, 9:53 AM EST and 12:21 PM EST. Notice that I included the two updates today. What I'd seen, just after our 11:00-15 AM blackout, when I started this draft article, was:
9:50 a.m. Update – The Knoxville Utility Board tweeted that it was informed by TVA that their system is stabilizing and they expect the mandatory electric outages to no longer be necessary after 10 a.m. Saturday.
I'd thought, “Liars! We had a blackout at 11 AM, which is after 10 AM!” In the early afternoon, while writing this article, I saw the 12:21 PM update:
12:15 p.m. Update – TVA said rolling blackouts have ended and thanked everyone for doing their part to help conserve energy and maintain the power grid for 10 million people in the seven states that TVA services.
Noon Update – The Knoxville Utility Board announced that TVA has ended the mandatory outages for KUB’s service area. The City of Oak Ridge also said that rolling blackouts for their area had been terminated.
11:30 a.m. Update – The Knoxville Utility Board issued a statement that TVA has extended the requirement for them to reduce their power load, meaning that rolling blackouts will continue.
So far, so good, at the time of this typing! I hope that the folks at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) do not change their minds – again!
On Saturday morning, December 24, TVA directed local power companies to implement planned, short duration, intermittent power interruptions to maintain system reliably. This action is similar to steps that TVA and local power companies took on Friday, December 23, to help ensure power system reliability. This measure is expected to be temporary until the highest peak power demands have been met.
During the 24-hours of December 23, TVA supplied more energy than at any other time in its history – 740 gigawatt-hours, or 740 million kilowatt-hours. The cold also produced a winter record for peak power demand of 33,425 megawatts at 7 p.m. CT when the regionwide average temperature was 9 degrees.
We have had stretches of either very cold or very hot weather before, when the electricity demand was high. Storms, snow, and ice have damaged power lines, which caused power outages. Yesterday and today, however, are the first times that TVA has mandated rolling blackouts. My commentary on this follows.
Commentary on Rolling Blackouts
I had wondered: “what is the reason for these new, never before done, rolling blackouts, with no notice, by TVA dictate?”
“Our Power System,” on TVA.com states, in part (with my emboldening added for emphasis):
TVA’s power portfolio is dynamic and adaptable in the face of changing demands and regulations. Our emphasis has moved away from traditional coal-based production and toward cleaner forms of power generation, and today the power we deliver is nearly 60 percent carbon-free.
Meanwhile, we’re decommissioning some of our oldest coal-fired units to make way for these new, more efficient forms of power production. It’s a natural evolution—one that fits with our historic mission of providing reliable, low-cost energy that makes life better for the people we serve.
Who is the “our” in the title? TVA is a government entity. We the people manage the government – or we are supposed to do so. The government works for us – or it's supposed to do so. I hope that “our” means “we the people,” not “TVA.”
I tried various searches, but I could not find annual TVA electric output totals by year. If anyone reading this article can find valid sources, please comment!
I speculate, however, that TVA's electric output has declined, since they have mothballed coal-fired steam plants, such as the John Sevier steam plant, in Hawkins County, Tennessee. (The plant was demolished, from April 2015 to May 2017.)
TVA, of course, has been under various federal, socialistic government dictates to produce more “clean energy” and to reduce its “carbon footprint.” These dictates advanced under President Obama. President Biden continues to advance the dictates. I'm sure that many Democrats and several Republicans have been and are in favor of these dictates.
Don't read into my remarks what I'm not saying! I am a conservationist, not an environmentalist. The difference is in the worldviews. I will define my terms and explain. (This section is included as my seventh entry, in “Worldviews in Conflict” topic.)
A conservationist has the biblical worldview, which values environmental stewardship. As good stewards, conservationists take care of what God has entrusted to us in nature. The ethical use of natural resources, to better mankind, cares for and manages the environment, for future generations. Humans use, manage, and improve the ecosystem. We are not intruders. I paint with a broad brush, but my definition aligns with other reputable website sources that I have viewed.
An environmentalist, however, has a pantheistic worldview. The creation is worshiped above the Creator. The needs of humans are lower than the needs of the environment (climate, air, land, water, animals, and plants). Humans are separate from the creation and act “immorally,” by disrupting it. Again, I paint with a broad brush, but ask any “tree hugger” if my concept is not correct.
Christmas Eve Commentary
That's about enough on that mundane topic! I'm done. Let's move on, shall we? After all, this is Christmas Eve!
Can Christmas Eve fall on the 22nd, not the 24th? Yes, it can, and it did for the Fearghail clan! On Thursday, December 22, 2022, my youngest brother and his family came down to visit, have Christmas dinner (or lunch, as the Yankees call it) with us, and open gifts! The decision to visit early this year was motivated by the current bit of winter that started yesterday and by Christmas falling on Sunday this year.
We enjoyed about four hours of great family time! Our nieces regaled us with stories about their current basketball season. My brother and I talked about mischievous things that we had done in our teenage years. We shared some family memories. Molly was also happy to see everyone. Thanks, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, for preparing a fine meal, on the unexpected date!
My paternal grandparents didn't connect to electricity (for lights only) until Dad was already several years old. They used coal oil lamps and candles for light. In winter, firewood heated the home well enough, if family wore enough layers of clothes and had enough blankets on the beds. A rolling blackout may have occurred – if the fire went out, before more wood could be brought in to stoke the coals.
If mankind must serve the creation, instead of the Creator, then those environmentalists should give up all modern electrical conveniences. That would be consistent. They should all return to living like Dad was raised – until Granny and Papaw connected to electric lights.
If mankind serves the Creator, then those conservationists should use the environment to improve mankind, replenish the environment, and leave it better, for the next generation.
Hey! What do you know? KUB has not done a third rolling blackout – yet.
Merry Christmas, to all my readers – especially to you, dear reader. The eternal Word was born of a virgin, lived as a man, ministered and showed us God in the flesh, was crucified for our sins (yours and mine), was resurrected, and ascended back to heaven. Christmas is the traditional commemoration of Jesus' birth.
I don't care at all for the commercialization of Christmas. I do not need any Christmas presents. I have the gift of God. That is enough.