WASHINGTON – The White House Council of Economic Advisers and the U.S. Department of Energy today released a new report that assesses how to best protect the nation’s electric grid from power outages that occur during natural disasters. 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.

The 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. The President’s Climate Action Plans 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.

 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 United States suffered eleven billion-dollar weather disasters – the second-most for any year on record, behind only 2011.
  • Since 1980, the United States 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

Source: DOE Press Release