SVEC Successfully Weathers Cold to Meet Record Demand for Electricity

Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) successfully weathered the severe cold last week, while meeting an all-time high demand for electricity.

“We experienced no outages or voltage issues because of the extreme cold,” said SVEC CEO, Mike McWaters. “We are pleased with the performance of our system, are not surprised by it. We invested about $10 million in system improvements over the last five years to increase service capacity and reliability.”

Examples of projects completed include the addition of two electrical substations and the conversion to higher-voltage distribution lines.

As a result of the cold, electricity usage reached an all-time high 139 megawatts (MW) at 6:45 a.m. on Friday, January 19. The peak occurred as residents of the Suwannee Valley woke up to temperatures as low as 21 F degrees. The system peak on Thursday, January 18 was 137 MW. Before that, SVEC’s all-time peak was 136 MW, which occurred in January 2015.

Many of SVEC’s members use a heat pump to heat their home. When it gets below 40 degrees, heat pumps struggle to extract enough heat from the outside to meet the requirements of the home owner. When that happens, most heat pumps activate electric heat coils which use a lot of electricity.