January temps shatter electricity consumption records
Cold temperatures throughout January resulted in members of Middle Tennessee Electric consuming more electricity than they have in the cooperative's 82-year history.
Between Jan. 1 and 20, 2018, the cooperative's members set two separate records: Largest peak demand and most total consumption for a single month.
"Our system responded extremely well with only minimal outages during this cold streak," said MTEMC President and CEO Chris Jones. "The downside of record consumption is record high electric bills. This will be seen most among our residential members who consumed more electricity than they ever have."
Jones said, in addition to the weather, other factors led to the increased consumption and higher bills.
"Many of our members are unaware of how much power they're consuming on a monthly basis," he said. "And the prolonged cold caused daily and even hourly strain on heating systems. Electric heating can consume far more power when it gets below freezing for sustained periods - and more often than not, consumers do not realize this."
When it comes to electrical heating, Jones said consumers who have electric heat pumps typically have an energy advantage, but not when temperatures dip below freezing.
"Heat pumps are great systems for our area the majority of the time," he explained. "When temperatures fall to where they were in January, heat pumps have to use auxiliary or emergency heat, and this causes far more electricity consumption."
It's not always a central heating system that increases consumption during the cold. Many members employed space heaters in hopes of reducing the amount of time their main heating units were running.
"Space heaters can be effective for a single room, but if you're using multiple space heaters over multiple days, your electric consumption can quickly get away from you," added Jones.
As consumption increases during extreme weather, even MTEMC’s low rates can add up to larger bills.
"Our rates are among the lowest in the country, and we can be spoiled by mild weather months and not be cognizant of our consumption during extreme weather months," said Jones. “But just like our members receiving a high bill, we also received a high bill from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).”
Jones added that Middle Tennessee Electric purchases its power from TVA and is billed according to the power sold. For each dollar MTEMC is paid by its members, .82 is paid to TVA and .18 is used to operate your cooperative in a not-for-profit manner.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Tennessee is among the top five states in the country for lowest electricity prices. In Tennessee, MTEMC's per kilowatt-hour rate is among the lowest.
The EIA also says Tennessee is in the nation's top five states for per-capita electricity consumption, and MTEMC residential members consume more energy per capita than most other Tennesseans.
"The good news is we have new tools to help members understand their daily and hourly consumption," Jones said. "These are tools that just became available to our members this past summer, and we are encouraging everyone to take advantage of them. They are all available through our myMTEMC mobile app and web portal. "
Jones said MTEMC member service employees, who work hard to help members manage the results of their higher consumption, are just a phone call away.
"As a member-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative," he said, "we want those we serve to be as comfortable as they choose to be. But we also hope they use as little electricity as possible in doing so. We'll always do our best to work with members to help, and we have lots of suggestions on conservation and efficiency."
Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation is a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative providing electricity to more than 220,000 residential and business members in Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford and Cannon counties.
For more information, please contact Middle Tennessee Electric's Vice President of Communications & Member Service Robert White at 615-494-1058.
- MTEMC peak demand records were consecutively set the mornings of Jan. 2 and then Jan. 18 (1,478 megawatts). Peak demand represents the highest point of total consumption at a given hour. Temperatures were near zero across much of the cooperative's service area both mornings.
- Total consumption by MTEMC members for January was 639,164 megawatt-hours, shattering the previous winter high of 563,799 megawatt-hours, which was set during the "Polar Vortex" of January 2014.
- According to the latest EIA data (for 2016), Tennessee ranked second in average per-capita residential energy consumption behind Louisiana. (https://www.eia.gov/)
- Louisiana 1,240 kWh
- Tennessee 1,238 kWh
- MTEMC's average per-capita residential consumption for that same year (2016) was 1,345 kWh
- Average per capita residential consumption for January 2018 was 2,115 kWh
- Alabama 1,214 kWh
- Mississippi 1,203 kWh
- Texas 1,151 kWh
- According to the latest EIA data (for October of 2017), Tennessee ranked fifth in lowest average residential rates.
- Louisiana 9.72 cents per kWh
- Washington 9.84 cents per kWh
- Arkansas 10.11 cents per kWh
- Idaho 10.34 cents per kWh
- Tennessee 10.53 cents per kWh
- MTEMC's average residential rate is approximately 9.92 cents per kWh