Communities across the nation are struggling with outdated infrastructure. The aging electric grid and expected increase in severe weather events is threatening the safety of the nation. Power outages are more than a simple nuisance when large areas are without electricity – they cause chaos and confusion and create hazardous situations that public safety agencies must quickly gain control of. A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Energy Department's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability has found that between 2003 and 2012 there have been upward of 600 power outages each year caused by severe weather – affecting at least 50,000 customers each.
The frequency and intensity of natural disasters like hurricanes, blizzards and floods is expected to rise – 2012 is already being referred to as the second costliest year for weather and climate-related disasters since 1980. The National Climatic Data Center, which is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has reported that during 2012, the U.S. saw 11 weather and climate disaster events – each with losses exceeding $1 billion. There was more than $110 billion in damages throughout the year, which makes 2012 the second costliest year – just behind 2005, which has $160 billion in damages due to four devastating land-falling hurricanes.
According to the report titled, "Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages," severe weather since 2002 has caused 58 percent of all outages and 87 percent of all outages involving 50,000 or more customers.
Public safety agencies already understand and train to handle situations like the power grid going down. However, consistent training is necessary to combat the effects of grid failure due to extreme weather. Increased training will help educate public safety departments, allowing them to stay current with best procedures and reduce the chaos of down power lines.
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