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2020 marked worst year for electricity service disruptions ever recorded: EIA


Extreme weather events drove the increase

Louisianans faced 60 hours of outages

US electricity customers in 2020 faced the greatest total duration of service disruptions since 2013, when the Energy Information Administration began collecting reliability data, the EIA says.

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US customers experienced more than eight hours of disruptions in 2020 on average, a nearly 20-minute increase from 2017, which marked the year with the second-longest total disruption, the agency reported Nov. 10. However, outside of major events, electricity interruptions were consistent from 2013 to 2020, averaging about two hours.

Extreme weather events caused most of the long interruptions, according to the EIA. There were 14 hurricanes and 11 major storms in the US last year.

The report comes as federal officials consider legislation aimed at combatting the climate crisis and investing in lower-carbon energy sources as well as electricity grid improvements. President Joe Biden is slated to sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law on Nov. 15, while Congress continues to consider a sweeping package containing climate and social program provisions.

Customers in Louisiana, Alabama, Iowa, Connecticut and Oklahoma saw the longest period of power disruptions for the year, the EIA reported. Louisianans faced 60 hours of interruptions compared to nearly 29 hours in Alabama.

In 2020, Louisiana weathered the most active storm season in its history, suffering the wrath of the devastating Hurricane Laura. Several hurricanes also hit Alabama while a tropical storm knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut. Additionally, Oklahoma suffered from an ice storm in October 2020 while a derecho caused outages in Iowa.

Meanwhile, the District of Columbia, Arizona, Nevada, North Dakota and South Dakota saw the shortest total interrupted service time in the nation. Customers in DC experienced 44 minutes of interruptions compared to 101 minutes in South Dakota, according to the EIA.

Utilities report the duration of such interruptions, which can stem from their practices, weather events and vegetation.