Americans experienced a record 3,236 power outages that cost the nation an estimated $150 billion in damages and lost income last year, according to a new report.
The number of blackouts reported was up 15 percent from the previous year and has increased significantly since the company that compiles the data started cataloging power outages in 2008. It was the most power outages in the six-year history of the report.
Around 2,169 power outages were reported in 2008 compared to the 3,236 blackouts reported last year. If that wasn’t bad enough, numbers could be low, because it was based only on news stories, websites and even anecdotes related by the public. There may have been several hundred power outages missed in 2013.
The Blackout Tracker report listed the year’s most significant power outages, such as 500,000 in Michigan losing power the weekend before Christmas because of an ice storm, and 650,000 homes and businesses in the Northeast losing electricity Feb. 8, 2013, because of a powerful snow storm. In some examples, it took a full week or more to restore power.
The Crazy Ways the Grid Is Vulnerable
- Thousands of people in Queens, New York, lost power for six hours because a man stole a bucket truck and then drove through the streets with an extended boom, knocking down poles and power lines.
- A Clallam County, Wash., man was so mad at his neighbors that he “went on a rampage with a bulldozer” knocking over a 70-foot pole and cutting power to thousands.
- 2,000 people in the San Francisco area lost power because an advertising banner pulled by an airplane fell off and onto power lines.
- 500 people in Charlotte, North Carolina, lost power because a utility truck knocked down a transformer.
- 6,100 people in Redondo Beach, California, lost power for three hours on Dec. 9, 2013, because wild parrots were roosting on power lines.
The High Cost of Downtime
What is truly disturbing is the high cost of electric downtime to American businesses of all shapes and sizes. The costs were so high that report labeled them “an astonishing price tag.”
“In an age where it is unimaginable for businesses to continuing functioning in the absence of electrical power, even a brief power outage can cause significant losses of revenue, productivity and product,” the report noted. “While the degree of impact cause varies by industry, unappealing consequences range from disruptive to literally life-threatening.”
The Black Out Tracker included a list of tangible and intangible costs from power outages every business owner should consider. These include:
- Lost revenue.
- Lost wages.
- Lost inventory.
- Additional labor costs.
- Bank fees.
- Legal penalties.
- Lost business opportunities.
- Loss of employees.
- Decrease of stock value.
- Loss of customers.
- Bad publicity.
Here are a few other facts about blackouts and power outages that every American home and business owner should be aware of:
- The state with the most blackouts in 2013 was California, where 464 power outages were reported.
- Nine states reported more than 100 blackouts in 2013
- The average power outage lasted 197 minutes, a little over three hours.
The report also had some very good advice for business owners:
“No matter how you look at it, the benefits of investing in power backup solutions to protect critical systems far outweigh the astonishing price tag related to downtime.”