August 24, 2015

Berkeley Lab Releases Most Comprehensive Analysis of Electricity Reliability Trends

New report finds that increasingly severe weather is linked to longer lasting power outages

(August 24, 2015)  In the most comprehensive analysis of electricity reliability trends in the United States, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Stanford University have found that, while, on average, the frequency of power outages has not changed in recent years, the total number of minutes customers are without power each year has been increasing over time.

The researchers pinpointed what utilities and their regulators refer to as “major events,” or events generally related to severe weather, as the principal driver for this trend. “This finding suggests that increasingly severe weather events are linked to a 5-10% increase in the total number of minutes customers are without power each year,” said Berkeley Lab Research Scientist and Stanford PhD candidate, Peter Larsen, the lead author.

The researchers analyzed reports for a large cross-section of utilities representing nearly 70 percent of U.S. electricity customers spanning 13 years from 2000 to 2012. Their report, “Assessing Changes in the Reliability of the U.S. Electric Power System,” is available here.

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