DOE, White House stress power grid resilience in new report

Sponsored by

Grid resilience is increasingly important as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of severe weather and estimates the economic impact of power outages on the nation’s economy, according to a report released by the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The release of the report coincides with the tenth anniversary of one of the worst power outages in the U.S., during which tens of millions of Americans were affected across parts of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

The report, titled "Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages" report finds that grid resilience is increasingly important as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of severe weather and estimates the economic impact of power outages on the nation’s economy. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan calls for upgrading the country’s electric grid to help make electricity more reliable, save consumers money on their energy bills, and promote clean energy sources, according to the White House.

“The U.S. electric grid is a vital component of the nation’s infrastructure and delivers, transmits and distributes electric power to millions of Americans in homes, schools, offices, and factories across the United States,” said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability at the DOE. “Investment in a 21st century modernized electric grid has been an important focus of President Obama’s administration and this report underscores the importance of continued cross-sector investment to make the grid more resilient to the causes of power outages, including severe weather.”

The new report focuses its analysis on the impact of power outages caused by severe weather between 2003 and 2012, finding:

·      Weather-related outages are estimated to have cost the U.S. economy an inflation-adjusted annual average of $18 billion to $33 billion.

·      Roughly 679 power outages, each affecting at least 50,000 customers, occurred due to weather events. The aging nature of the grid — much of which was constructed over a period of more than one hundred years — has made Americans more susceptible to outages caused by severe weather.

·      In 2012, the U.S. suffered eleven billion-dollar weather disasters — the second-most for any year on record, behind only 2011.

·      Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 144 weather disasters whose damage cost reached or exceeded $1 billion and seven of the ten costliest storms in U.S. history occurred between 2004 and 2012.

The report calls for increased cross-sector investment in the electric grid and identifies strategies for modernizing the grid to better prevent power outages. These strategies include conducting exercises to identify and mitigate the potential impacts of hazards to the grid; working with utilities to harden their infrastructure against wind and flood damage; increasing overall system flexibility and robustness of the grid; and supporting implementation of 21st century technologies that can quickly alert utilities when consumers experience a power outage or there is a system disruption and automatically reroute power to avoid further outages.

Sponsored by

Get All the Electric Light & Power and POWERGRID International to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Electric Light & Power or POWERGRID International and the email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

Related Articles

In Illinois, utility regulators are playing bigger role in smart-grid cybersecurity

04/01/2019 Growing exposure to smart-grid-related cybersecurity risks is forcing state regulators to play a bigger role in preparing ...

Vattenfall buys Dutch energy software services company Senfal

03/19/2019

Senfal’s automated demand response service steers the flexibility in assets, controlling and adjusting production schedule...

Worker dies restoring power in Texas Panhandle

03/14/2019

Amarillo-based Xcel Energy says the man died Wednesday evening while working in Hereford, near the New Mexico border. 

Gulf Power wants regulators to allow hurricane power restoration surcharge

02/07/2019

The utility says in a statement it hopes to raise $342 million