Protecting the U.S. electric grid from increasingly severe weather events


Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — August 14, 2013

Between 2003 and 2012, an estimated 679 widespread power outages occurred in the United States due to severe weather, with the average annual cost of such outages over that period estimated at between $18 billion to $33 billion.

However, this cost fluctuates significantly, such as with Hurricane Ike in 2008, for which the cost estimates range from $40 billion to $75 billion, and with Superstorm Sandy in 2012, for which the cost estimates range from $27 billion to $52 billion.

These are among findings presented in a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Energy Department, Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages, which highlights the importance of grid resiliency “as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of severe weather.”

The report states that severe weather is the number one cause of power outages in the U.S., with the aging nature of the grid increasing consumer susceptibility to such outages. Further, the number of outages caused by severe weather is expected to rise with the anticipated increase from climate change in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, blizzards, floods and other extreme weather events.

Typical costs of outages include lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, inconvenience and damage to the electric grid.

The report argues that continued investment in grid modernization and resilience will mitigate these costs over time – saving billions of dollars and reducing the hardship experienced when such extreme weather strikes – and calls for increased cross-sector investment for this purpose.

A six point strategy to achieving grid resilience is:

  • Manage risk
  • Consider cost effective strengthening
  • Increase system flexibility and robustness
  • Increase visualization and situational awareness
  • Deploy advanced control capabilities
  • Availability of critical components and software systems.