10 Fold Increase in Power Outages due to Weather Extremes
April 22, 2014
Combination of no action on climate change, plus no action on rebuilding a rapidly crumbling, vulnerable grid. Same forces behind both.
A new report from Climate Central has found that major power outages have increased ten times over since the early 1980s — and extreme weather is by far the biggest culprit.
The analysis defined a “major power outage” as a loss of electrical power for at least 50,000 people for at least an hour, or where the power supply interruption reached at least 300 megawatts, or where demand exceeded supply by at least 100 megawatts. It found the big upswing in such events occurred in the 2000s. Weather drove 80 percent of all outages between 2003 and 2012, and only three years in that time period saw non-weather related events account for more than 10 percent of all outages.
Furthermore, the average number of weather-related outages doubled over the 2003-2012 period. More specifically, 59 percent of the weather-related outages covered by the analysis were due to storms and extreme weather; 19 percent were due to severe cold and ice storms; 18 percent were due to hurricanes and tropical storms; 3 percent were due to tornadoes; and 2 percent were caused by extreme heat and wildfires.