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2020 was the worst year on record for power disruptions in the U.S.

image credit: Courtesy EIA
Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
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  • Nov 11, 2021

On average, electricity customers in the U.S. experienced 8 hours of power disruptions in 2020, 20 minutes longer than the previous record set in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

The average of 8 hours is skewed heavily by a handful of severe events experienced in some states due to intense storm conditions. A majority of U.S. states and U.S. electricity customers experienced six or fewer hours of electricity disruptions throughout the year. 

According to a report by the EIA, if we remove severe weather events from the calculation, the average amount of time spent with power disruptions between 2013 and 2020 is about 2 hours. In 2020, electricity customers in Washington D.C., Arizona, Nevada and North and South Dakota experienced the shortest duration of energy disruptions, ranging from 44 minutes in D.C. to 101 minutes in South Dakhota. 

The major power disruptions in 2020 were tied directly to major storms. Lousiana had its most active storm season on record last year, leading to an average of 60 hours worth of power disruptions. An ice storm in Oklahoma pushed power outage duration to nearly 50 hours while Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power for 750,000 customers in Connecticut—nearly one-quarter of the whole state—in some cases lasting for more than a week. 

The Iowa derecho resulted in mass outages and winter in Maine always means falling trees and extended blackouts. In 2020, the U.S. experienced 14 hurricanes and 11 major storms. Obviously, when this information comes out for 2021, the morsel of gold will be Texas's numbers, with the historic blackout in the winter and rolling blackouts in the early summer. 



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