U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Advanced Manufacturing Office – Industrial Distributed Energy

Protecting the Electric Grid from Weather Due to Climate Change

August 14, 2013

This week marks the tenth anniversary of one of the worst power outages in the United States, during which tens of millions of Americans were affected across parts of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Severe weather is the number one cause of power outages on the nation’s electric grid, which serves as the backbone of the nation’s infrastructure that delivers electric power to millions of Americans in homes, schools, offices, and factories across the United States.

A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Energy Department evaluates the economic cost of power outages and calls for increased cross-sector investment to make the electric grid more resilient in the face of increasingly severe weather events due to climate change.

The report provides new estimates of the annual cost of power outages caused by weather. Between 2003 and 2012, weather-related outages are estimated to have cost the U.S. economy an inflation-adjusted annual average of $18 billion–$33 billion. Annual costs fluctuate significantly and are greatest in the years of major storms such as Hurricane Ike in 2008, a year in which cost estimates range from $40 billion to $75 billion, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a year in which cost estimates range from $27 billion to $52 billion. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.