Just days away from the 10-year anniversary of the worst power outage in U.S. history, the White House and the Energy Department released a report on Monday evaluating the resiliency of the nation’s electric grid and recommending steps to prevent future blackouts.
The report called storms and severe weather “the leading cause of power outages in the United States,” and warned against the steep cost of weather-related damage to the electric grid. It put the price tag for electrical failures caused by inclement weather at between $18 billion and $33 billion annually, and noted that costs have increased in recent years, jumping from a range of $14 billion to $26 billion in 2003 to $27 billion to $52 billion in 2012. Storms exceeding a billion dollars in damages (electrical and otherwise) have also become more frequent in the past decade, as the chart below shows.
Senior administration officials told reporters during a conference call Monday morning that investing in improvements to the grid is the best way to make sure this figure does not continue to rise.
Officials said the electrical distribution system, largely made up of power lines, is the most vulnerable part of the grid. One investment to strengthen the system, they suggested, would be to add automated sensors to pinpoint the exact location of a power failure. “One of the things we have been working with is to help deploy automated switches, which utilities have been able to [use] to minimize the impact of outages … so what they’ve been able to do is actually isolate a fault or where the damage is on the system faster and be able to keep other customers up that normally would have gone down in an outage,” one offical said.
Administration officals also urged continued investment in monitoring systems to identify areas of the grid most likely to be damaged in the event of a storm.
Additionally, the report pointed to a link between climate change and the need for grid modernization. “It’s clear that climate change is impacting the grid,” another official said. The same offical noted that climate change has increased the “frequency and intensity” of storms throughout the United States, leaving the nation’s aging network of power generators, electric plants, and transmission lines more susceptible to damage.
The release of the report dovetails neatly with the president’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for expansion and modernization of the U.S. electrical grid.
It also follows the Energy Department’s publication of a report last month showing how the U.S. energy sector has become increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters and extreme weather variability due to climate change.
Despite its recommendations, the report does not constitute a federal mandate. Officials noted that it is up to state and local governments as well as privately owned power and utility companies to help implement the guidelines.
What We're Following See More »
Evan McMullin came out on top in a Emerson College poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clinton took third with 24%. Gary Johnson received 5% of the vote in the survey.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” vanished from the university’s early October poll. A new PPRI/Brookings survey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a virtual dead heat, with Trump taking 41% of the vote to Clinton’s 40% in a four-way matchup.
During a state visit to China, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte "declared an end to his country’s strategic alignment with the United States and pledged cooperation with Beijing." Duterte told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he's "realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world—China, Philippines, and Russia. It’s the only way.”
Reports say that Orrin Hatch, who in 2012 declared that he would retire at the end of his term, is considering going back on that pledge to run for an eighth term. Hatch, who is the longest serving Republican in the Senate, is unlikely to make any official declaration until after this election cycle is completed.