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No. 402: Revisiting Tenneessee's Great Power Grid

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Power · Council · Parks · Exercise · Racetracks · Panama Canal · Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

Clear skies, cool breezes, and sunshine will take us into the weekend. On the docket today:

  • Off the Cuff Davis recaps the TVA’s implementation of rolling blackouts.
  • Nashville Megan reviews last night’s Metro Council meeting.
  • Elsewhere Working out in parks, generational wealth, McCarthy falters, etc.
  • Local Noise Bluegrass night at the Legion.
  • And More An old racetrack, the Panama Canal, etc.

It feels so great outside, I'm pulling out the linen.

Thanks for reading.

Off the Cuff
Notes from the editor


Just before we went on Christmas break, I offered a spirited defense of the power grid in Nashville, assuaging readers' concerns that we were about to encounter a snowpocalypse or some other such thing of the 2021 Texas variety. The snowpocalypse did not happen, but the TVA did institute rolling blackouts.

In their official statement, TVA officials claimed that on Friday, December 23rd, the agency “supplied more power than at any other time in its nearly 90-year history.” Additionally, they stressed, the cold snap “produced the highest winter power peak in TVA history.”

The stress on the grid led to TVA drawing down power consumption by 5 percent for 2 hours and 15 minutes. And on Saturday, December 24th, a system-wide power consumption reduction in 5-10 percent curtailments for 5 hours and 40 minutes.

Don Moul, Chief Operating Officer of TVA, told The Tennessean that freezing temperatures shut down a few of its gas and coal plants, leading to reduced grid output.

We’ll have to wait for TVA’s official report to get all the details, but I’ll offer some safe speculation on why this happened in the meantime.

First, the area that TVA serves (all of Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states) has grown immensely over the past 90 years. More customers. More demand for power.

Second, the agency’s efforts to wean itself off coal mean that it’s slowly moving towards a more “sustainable” but less reliable grid.

As we discussed the first time around, there are roughly two types of power:

  1. Baseload power sources, which produce power at a constant rate and are not designed to respond to peak demands or emergencies (e.g. nuclear, coal, and hydroelectric).
  2. Intermittent power sources, which are renewables that are subject to the elements and unable to be wound up on demand because you can’t force the wind to blow or the sun to shine (e.g., wind and solar).

Natural gas falls somewhere in between depending on the plant. At the beginning of 2021 in Texas, for example, natural gas plants froze up in response to the weather. Some gas plants are more robust than others depending on how nimbly they can respond to demand spikes.

In its move away from coal, TVA has chosen to migrate coal facilities to natural gas facilities. Neither coal nor gas are completely immune to the elements, but gas is far more fragile than coal. This shift has been resoundingly thumped by local outlets like WPLN and even by the mayor’s office.

Mayor Cooper, in one of his typical PR dispatches from nowhere, offered his suggestion that the TVA convert a coal plant (baseload) in Stewart County into a solar plant (intermittent) instead of a gas plant (middle). One can imagine a Cooper staffer digging through the news looking for something the bossman could say to make him look “with it” behind the next podium he waddled up to.

Conveniently, Cooper’s buddy, Phil Bredesen, is the chairman of Silicon Ranch. Wonder if that colored his perception. I like to joke that if I were an IRS agent or federal investigator searching for instances of corruption, the first place I’d look would be the solar industry.

For example, 71 to 97 percent of solar panel components in the US come from China. The US solar market only makes economic sense due to China’s massive subsidization of components, their employ of slave labor in their production, and their use of coal to power the facilities. In addition to that, the USG pours its own subsidies on solar. Short of massive subsidization, a “solar future” is a mirage. Someone get Cooper a camel back to civilization.

Now, back to reality: reducing the number of base load sources on TVA’s grid will make those rolling blackouts we experienced much worse. This is an objective fact that you cannot get around. Despite this plainly obvious fact, groups like Southern Environmental Law Center have used the blackouts to bemoan the ineffectiveness of fossil fuels and advocate for the state to institute austerity measures for citizens.

If that sounds backward to you, it is. It’s straight up idiocy. The only solution here is nuclear power. Anyone advocating for your austerity to ease grid load, advocating for wind and solar, and ignoring nuclear power should be shunned and ignored. Maybe even marooned to Elba.



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What is a family? That was part of the discussion during an exchange over a bill set to redefine the term “family” in order to adjust dwelling occupancy limits last night. In other news, both bills related to creating new entertainment industry commissions lived to see another day. It’s unclear if any compromise between the competing bills is on the horizon.


A bill was passed on second reading—but deferred until February regarding the regulatory language—in legislation outlining dwelling occupancy in Nashville. Specifically, the term “family” is redefined in BL2022-1471 in order to shift the number of unrelated people who can live in one “dwelling unit.”
The current language defines family as the following:

  1. An individual
  2. Two or more people related by blood, marriage or law
  3. Up to three unrelated people/groups living together

The new bill would increase the number of unrelated persons who can live together from three to seven.

Recently, affordable housing has become an issue for college students, young adults, and struggling families in Nashville. Shacking up together has been a common solution to these issues, but Metro has been delivering eviction notices to households who violate the rule of three.

While this seems to be an attempt to prevent evictions during a recession, redefining the term “family” has left many councilmembers with a sense of unease. On the floor, Metro Development Manager Lisa Milligan clarified: “Based on state law, and based on our current definition of family, recovery homes are typically covered by the ADA—American Disabilities Act—so that would be covered by that definition of eight, unrelated individuals.”

Milligan was addressing whether the legislation affected halfway houses. Legislation already exists making allowances for up to eight unrelated people to live together which suggests that the council should draft legislation to address the problem directly instead of changing the definition of what comprises a family.

As the discussion came to a close, questions were left hanging in the air leading to a deferral on the bill. It will resurface during the first week of February.


The Council still seems indecisive when it comes to the prospect of creating a new Nashville Film and Television Advisory Board or Nashville Entertainment Creation Commission. Both bills were deferred for at least two meetings in order for sponsors to meet with the Mayor’s office to discuss options going forward.

The main difference between the two bills:

  • BL2022-1630 creates a nine-member board composed of industry professionals and focuses its energy exclusively on prospects in the areas of television and film
  • BL2022-1631 creates a nineteen-member commission to support all entertainment industry professionals and attract more projects to Nashville.
    The Mayor’s office has expressed interest in an entertainment-related commission since the introduction of legislation related to the matter in July. Presumably, the $4.4 billion economic impact numbers that Georgia’s film industry produced last year is attractive enough to warrant interest.




  • San Francisco company pays $72M for local garden-style apartment complex (Post)
  • 7-Eleven site on east side sells for $10.75M (Post)
  • Midtown parcels fetch $11M (Post)
  • Hotel eyed for River North site (Post)
  • Long-planned Midtown project sees movement (Post)

✹ The 5 Best Spots for Outdoor Exercise in Nashville

By William Harwood · Read Online

Head for the Hills! On the Trail of Local Parks’ Best Ups and Downs

Alle wahrhaft großen Gedanken kommen einem beim Gehen!”
All truly great thoughts come to one while moving.

Friedrich Nietzsche

In case you have been living under rocks – rather than already euphorically hiking, jogging, running over them – you already know that outdoor exercise, particularly in the calming woods and on hilly terrain, is just. so. damn. healthy. Our bodies and brains, you see, are basically self-sentient bio-bags of cascading chemistry, and physical exertion on trails at whatever pace your petits pieds can produce is the ideal way to become your own drug dealer. It’s free; it’s legal; it’s brain-buzzing at its best. Plus, the good stuff you get goes well beyond the rush of pleasurable endorphins, those famous neurotransmitters also known as endogenous opioids.

Impactful outdoor exercise on the trails also drops doses of dopamine, that neurotransmitter known for enhancing mood, motivation, and memory, and for regulating heart rate and sleep cycles. And then there are the endocannabinoids such as anandamide responsible for that ‘runner’s high.’ Unlike endorphins which, as molecules go, are  too big and burly to cross the blood-brain barrier, endocannabinoids slip readily into your gray areas to act upon your brain’s endocannabinoid receptors in precisely the same way as the THC in a finely rolled spliff. Only, to get a heady hit in this case – call it ‘slope-o-dope’ – all you gotta do is huff it up the hills then Earth-surf it down like a bounding boss. Practice it often enough and euphoria will ensue.  Ehm…as long as you keep the toes up. (Highly fucking recommended.)

Continue reading...


The viral generational wealth chart looks very different when restated in per capita terms. (More Info)


  • 💀 Republican Kevin McCarthy fell short of winning the House speaker’s gavel in three rounds of voting Tuesday, leaving the chamber without a leader as a determined bloc of conservative holdouts refused to relent over longstanding complaints about the direction of the party.
  • 🇺🇸 Former president Donald Trump attempted to rally Republicans around Representative Kevin McCarthy’s (R., Calif.) ailing bid for the House speakership today.
  • 📈 The U.S. labor market remains historically strong, with employers adding an average of 392,000 jobs a month in 2022 through November, according to the Labor Department. The pace of job growth was more than double that of 2019, the year before Covid-19 hit the U.S. economy.
  • 🇨🇺 The United States Embassy in Cuba is reopening visa and consular services Wednesday, the first time it has done so since a spate of unexplained health incidents among diplomatic staff in 2017 slashed the American presence in Havana.
  • ❌ A top European Union privacy regulator ruled that Meta Platforms Inc. can’t use its contracts with Facebook and Instagram users to justify sending them ads based on their online activity, delivering one of the bloc’s biggest blows yet to the digital-advertising industry.
  • 🐚 A sudden thaw across the Northern Hemisphere has melted down natural-gas prices, upending dire forecasts of energy shortages and sinking Vladimir Putin‘s plan to squeeze Europe this winter.
  • 🇮🇱 In his first speech, Eli Cohen, Israel’s new foreign minister under Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, has signaled that he will be pursuing less fractious ties with Russia, despite the ongoing war in Ukraine.


View the full calendar here.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out Nashville's winter farmer's markets on our farmer's market guide.

🎧 Listen to the Pamphleteer's Picks on Spotify, a playlist of our favorite bands in town each week.

🏕 Happy New Year! Here's our list of this year's best southern festivals, where you'll find celebrations both popular and obscure, with a wide range of themes including music, history, health, heritage, beer, BBQ, cars, and more.


🎻 Bluegrass Night @ The American Legion Post 82, 7p, Free, Info

🎙 Songwriter Showdown @ Dee's Lounge, 8p, Free, Info

🥁 The Wednesday Beat @ The 5 Spot, 9p, $10, Info
+ Record spinner + drummer


🎻 Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninoff @ The Schermerhorn, 1/21, 8p, $25, Info

🎸 Tedeschi Trucks Band @ Ryman, 1/23-25, 8p, $49.50, Info

🎻 Billy Strings @ Bridgestone, 1/24-25, 8p, Info

🎻 Billy Strings @ Ryman, 1/26, 8p, Info
+ Only elligible if you purchased a ticket to one of his previous nights' Bridgestone shows

🎙 Weyes Blood @ Brooklyn Bowl, 2/22, 8p, $23+, Info

🎸 Goose @ The Ryman, 3/31-4/1, Info



The Pamphleteer Holiday Streaming Guide
Our best bets for yuletide downtime and the lost week between Christmas and New Year’s.
On Hot Drinks
The Dickensian Era and Beyond
Getting Salty
When to Have Some, and When Not to
Change of Heart
When Gender Transitioners Turn Back
Around the Web

Give me no longer the South of Greek columns and mint juleps; they’re so in-baked that they’ll never vanish. Give me the South of Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough, of Bill Elliot and Dale Earnhardt, of Richard Byrd and Claire Chennault, of Oak Ridge and NASA. Give me the South that shattered history in revenge for history shattering it, be it in the driver's seat of Dale Earnhardt’s black No. 3, or the cockpit of the Space Shuttle.

But give me back Southside Speedway. Give us back Southside Speedway. That the ground these heroes trod be not paved over for yet another shopping center. It’ll take fifteen million dollars, probably even more, but what’s the use of money if we can’t use it to keep the things we love running?

Source: Save Southside Speedway
Paul Fahrenheidt, 2 January 2022, Read Online

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Today's newsletter is brought to you by Megan Podsiedlik (Nashville), Edward Landstreet (Local Noise), and Davis Hunt (everything else).