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States with the most power outages in the last year

Ilena Peng on

Published in Slideshow World

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States with the most power outages in the last year

An aging power infrastructure and a growing climate crisis have left U.S. residents increasingly in the dark. Traditionally, power outages are caused by singular disruptions—a car rams into a pole, equipment fails, or a tree falls onto a power line. These incidents usually affect small areas for short periods. However, as the changing climate spurs more natural disasters, power outages also become more frequent and severe.

These outages are life-threatening in more ways than one. Power outages leave residents without air conditioning or heating, making them susceptible to heatstroke or hypothermia. Furthermore, improper use of alternative energy sources like grills or gas-powered generators can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

During an outage, hospitals resort to contingency plans to power only the most vital equipment. Accessibility is hindered as motorized stair lifts and elevators stop functioning. Prolonged power outages also disrupt the food supply chain. Factories pause or halt production, warehouses stop loading trucks, and stores lose perishable food.

Stacker analyzed data from the Department of Energy to identify the 15 states that have experienced the most power outages since the start of 2021. Data was available through June 2021, so it does not include more recent natural disasters like Hurricane Ida. These states do share one severe weather incident: the arctic blast that caused record low temperatures across 48 states in February 2021.

Read on to find out which 15 states have experienced the most power outages this year.

 

Visit thestacker.com for similar lists and stories.

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#15. Nebraska

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 5 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 4 --- Most common cause: transmission interruption

In recent years, high winds in Nebraskan storms have continually toppled trees and triggered power outages. And although Stacker’s data didn’t include information on outages after June 2021, Omaha Public Power District said a storm in July was the largest storm they had ever faced. At least 188,000 households were left without power.

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#14. Mississippi

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 5 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 11 --- Most common cause: severe weather

Hurricane season in Mississippi leads to a spate of power outages. Hurricane Zeta left more than 226,000 Mississippians without power in October 2020, causing the worst storm damage southern Mississippi had experienced since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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#13. Minnesota

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 5 --- Most common cause: transmission interruption

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 8 --- Most common cause: system operations

Minnesota’s cold winter storms regularly cause power outages. A record-breaking snowstorm in October 2021 left roughly 33,500 residents without power; two months later, another storm caused outages for about 38,000 people. Minnesota has had to adapt its energy infrastructure accordingly, like applying heating lubrication to keep wind turbines, which provide 30% of the state’s power, from freezing.

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#12. Pennsylvania

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 6 --- Most common cause: transmission interruption, system operations

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 12 --- Most common cause: transmission interruption, severe weather

According to the Pennsylvania State Climatologist, winds traveling westward carry most of the state’s weather occurrences. The eastern regions of Pennsylvania, unprotected by the Appalachian Mountains, face the full effects of the Atlantic Ocean’s coastal storms. In June 2020, a derecho—a line of severe, rapidly moving storms—traveled through southeast Pennsylvania into New Jersey, causing 850,000 outages.

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#11. Maine

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 6 --- Most common cause: severe weather, system operations

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 22 --- Most common cause: severe weather

Maine residents are familiar with power outages, as storms have left hundreds of thousands without power in the past two years. The largest outage recorded in the state was in October 2017, when a storm left half a million Maine residents without power. Maine power companies have attempted to prevent outages by trimming trees and purchasing more protective equipment.

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#10. Oregon

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 7 --- Most common cause: system operations

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 14 --- Most common cause: vandalism, system operations

While system malfunctions are the most common cause of power outages in Oregon, extreme weather can also cause power failure. Power lines aren’t equipped to handle excessive ice, and in February 2021, an ice storm disrupted power for at least 260,000 Oregonians. In September 2020, Portland General Electric shut off power for 5,000 customers to mitigate a wildfire risk—a first for the company.

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#9. Oklahoma

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 7 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 8 --- Most common cause: severe weather

High winds and lightning storms contribute to Oklahoma’s power outages. In July 2020, winds of up to 80 miles per hour left 40,000 people in the Tulsa area without power. Three months later, the state issued its first-ever October ice storm warning and experienced its most severe storm in at least five years, which left more than 300,000 residents without power.

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#8. New Hampshire

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 7 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 13 --- Most common cause: severe weather

A set of rapidly moving thunderstorms traveled across New Hampshire in June 2021, bringing hail and strong winds that affected power for over 25,000 residents. In March 2021, strong winds knocked down trees and power lines, including a line that fell onto a school bus. Thankfully, no children were injured. A nor’easter in December 2020, the first of the season, left 60,000 in the state without power.

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#7. Missouri

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 9 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 3 --- Most common cause: system operations

Severe thunderstorms in June 2021 cut off power to 38,000 Missouri residents. A week later, some Missourians experienced two power outages within 24 hours due to a faulty underground cable. And at the end of the same month, a storm flooded areas of Jefferson City, downing multiple power lines.

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#6. Kansas

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 9 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 1 --- Most common cause: system operations

Kansas has faced several power outages due to extreme weather. Storms in June and July 2021 left 38,000 then 65,000 residents without power. A December 2020 power outage affected almost 10,000 Kansans, some twice. Further outages weren’t caused by weather conditions, like a substation explosion that led to more than 20,600 reports of power failure.

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#5. Washington

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 10 --- Most common cause: severe weather, vandalism

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 21 --- Most common cause: vandalism

During a heatwave in June 2021, thousands of Washington customers lost power. One power company, Puget Sound Energy, said the outages were caused by high temperatures, not by too many people running their air conditioning. A different company, Avista, scheduled planned outages to prevent their systems from overloading from heat and the increased demand for electricity as people turned on air conditioning.

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#4. Arkansas

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 10 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 11 --- Most common cause: severe weather

In May 2021, storms and high winds cut power for 60,000 Arkansas residents, toppling trees and pulling down power lines. During Easter weekend in 2020, severe storms gave the state the most outages in the country, leaving more than 100,000 people without electricity. Three days later, the power was still out for 21,000 Arkansans.

 

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#3. California

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 15 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 55 --- Most common cause: severe weather

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s outdated power lines sparked the 2018 California Camp Fire, killing 85 people and destroying nearly all of Paradise, California. The company has since taken to implementing planned outages amid high wildfire risk conditions. Rain, an infrequent occurrence in the state, also causes power outages: Last month, PG&E said that the Bay Area outages, which affected more than 26,000 customers, were caused by light rain turning the dirt on power lines into mud.

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#2. Louisiana

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 19 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 18 --- Most common cause: severe weather

Hurricanes in Louisiana have contributed to power outages vast in both quantity and scope. Hurricanes Laura and Delta touched down just six weeks apart in 2020. One utility company, Entergy Louisiana, had nearly finished restoring power to those affected by Hurricane Laura when Hurricane Delta led to outages for over 300,000 of its customers. Overall, more than 600,000 Louisiana residents lost power as a result of Hurricane Delta. In May 2021, flash flooding in Louisiana led to four deaths, including an oxygen-dependent older man who died from oxygen failure during a power outage.

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#1. Texas

- Total electric disturbance events (2021): 66 --- Most common cause: severe weather

- Total electric disturbance events (2020): 47 --- Most common cause: severe weather

One of the nation’s worst power outages ever hit Texas in February 2021, leaving 4 million residents without power in freezing weather. More than 200 residents died, and over 1,400 people sought hospital care due to carbon monoxide poisoning, as people used alternative power sources, like charcoal grills, to stay warm. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said natural gas providers’ equipment failure primarily caused the outages. Still, all of the state’s power sources were affected by the low temperatures.

 


© 2021 Stacker Media, LLC; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC
 

 

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