Brittany Lutke Thunder and Lightning and Blackouts, Oh My! Summer and Power Outages

July 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As summer temperatures climb, individuals and companies across the Midwest find themselves using more power and experiencing rolling blackouts.  While power outages and blackouts are not exclusive to the summer months, they are often more prevalent during these months.  The effects of these outages, while not always devastating or headline generating, are often costly.

Historical Analysis of US OutagesDid you know…

  • 500,000 people per day in the US lose power for at least 2 hours
  • On average, there are approximately 54 power outages each year that affect more than 50,000 people
  • Outages cost between $80B and $188B annually
  • US power grid outages average 92 minutes in the Midwest each year
  • The Northeast experiences total outages averaging 214 minutes each year
  • 70% of power outages in the US are caused by weather (Edison Electric Institute)

Dr. Massoud Amin of the University of Minnesota researches power outages in the US and how we can prevent them.  In his research, he documents the steady increase of power outages since the early 1990’s.

What causes outages? 
While it is clear power outages are a real and growing problem for companies, organizations, and individuals across the US, many still wonder, what causes these disruptive events?  Outages are caused

  • 70% by weather incidents such as lightning, wind, ice, snow, rain, etc.
  • 11% by animal contact
  • 19% by other causes such as increased power demand, construction, accidents, and human error.

Additionally, as the infrastructure of power systems has become increasingly complex, the inter-dependencies sometimes lead to power outages.

Why are there more outages during the summer? 
Increased demand accounts for a great deal of the outages that take place during the summer, when residents and businesses use air conditioning and power outage has reached its peak. This year during July 4th weekend, New York City reached its highest use of electricity.  This trend is not isolated to NYC nor the east coast.  In fact, on June 30 of this year the US recorded its hottest day in history at 134 degrees in Death Valley. Various studies demonstrate correlation between temperature and power usage–meaning that when temperatures are higher, more energy is consumed.

Stay tuned next week, when we will discuss some of the worst power outages and what you can do to protect your business.

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