Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stunning Fact:Sandy Knocked Out Electricity Service To About 60 Million People & Requires Grid Hardening Investigations

Brian Wolff, Senior VP for the Edison Electric Institute, estimates that as many as 60 million people plunged into darkness as a result of Sandy. That's a stunning number, appearing in Carl Bialik's piece:

If Wolff is correct, Sandy put close to 1 in 5 Americans in the dark for some time.  Wow!

For its part, the EIA reports that Sandy knocked out electric service to 8.5 million accounts.  Of course,  a single electric account can provide service to 1 person or hundreds, even thousands of persons.

These numbers underline the need for utility regulators to investigate formally how the electric system can be hardened, what the cost and benefits of specific measures would be, and how much time would be necessary to make the electric grid less vulnerable to storm damage.  The fixes will take money.  There is no free lunch, no equivalent of cut taxes to pay down the national debt or vodoo economics, no matter what may be suggested.

But the risks of and the damage done by storms in our changed climate changes the costs and benefits of hardening the grid. For example, Pennsylvania has been whacked by massive flooding in 2011 and then huge wind damage in 2012. It's past time to take a serious look at grid hardening.

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