Record cold results in increased electrical use, higher bills
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Middle Tennessee’s continued tundra-like frigid weather resulted in this beautiful icy creek scene near Readyville recently. This week the “highs” could reach 45 degrees with some snow predicted. (Photo by Dan Whittle)

Another record breaking week of cold equals abnormally high electric bills for Middle Tennessee Electric and its Cannon County customers. MTEC already set four alltime peak demand records on Jan. 6, 7, 24 and 29. The Jan. 29 demand reached approximately 1,440 megawatts, 115 megawatts above the previous mark from summer of 2012. A megawatt is about the capacity needed to power 500 homes on a normal day.

"We haven't seen a winter month like this one in a very long time," said MTEMC President Chris Jones. Bitterly cold temperatures and record setting consumption means the cooperative and its members will see bills like they haven't seen in a long time.

"What will really drive up bills is the sustained cold we've experienced," Jones said. "It's not as though we had just two or three really cold days, we've had a long period of unusually cold weather."

Jones said bills double or triple the amount of a normal will not be unusual. "Our price per kilowatthour is among the lowest in the country, but when our members consume that much power, bills will be high. We know it's coming; many of us have used a whole lot of kilowatt-hours this month just to stay warm," he said.

Just like its members receive a bill, MTEMC also receives a power bill from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

"The electricity we distribute to our members comes from TVA, and we receive a bill from them, just as our members receive one from us," Jones said. "TVA bills us for the power we consume as a cooperative, and for every dollar we bring in from our members, about 85 cents is paid straight to TVA for that power." Jones also reminded MTEMC members that the cooperative is a not-for-profit entity.

"During extreme times," Jones said, "folks naturally wonder about profiteering with various goods and services. But that is not the case for the cooperative. We are a not-for-profit entity, existing solely for the benefit of our members. We simply charge what it costs to deliver, and we encourage our members to use their power as efficiently and conserv-atively as they can."


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