Central District PSC Brent Bailey Says Duration of Power Outages Increased in 2020

The following was submitted by Central District Civil Service Commissioner Brent Bailey


In the United States, the average electricity customer experienced just over eight hours of power outages in 2020. This was almost 3.5 hours more than in 2019 and almost 20 minutes more than ‘in 2017, last year to approach the duration of interruptions of 8 hours. .

Customers in Alabama, Iowa, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Louisiana experienced the most power outage time in 2020, ranging from nearly 29 hours in Alabama to 60 hours in Louisiana . Customers in Mississippi followed Alabama closely with 25 hours of interrupted power. On the other end of the spectrum, electricity customers in the District of Columbia, Arizona, Nevada, North Dakota and South Dakota had the shortest total duration of power outages in 2020, ranging from 44 minutes in the District of Columbia to 101 minutes in South Dakota.

Major weather events were largely responsible for the long-lasting outages in electrical service. Hurricanes and tropical storms hit Louisiana, Alabama and Connecticut. Straight-line winds (un derecho) hit Iowa and an ice storm hit Oklahoma.

The frequency of power outages also contributes to the total duration of the outage. Maine, a heavily forested state, experienced the highest average number of power outages per customer, followed by Louisiana and Mississippi. Various factors cause power outages, including weather conditions, vegetation, and utility practices. So far, 2021 has seen another round of extreme winter conditions, major hurricanes, extensive wildfires and supply chain disruptions. It will be interesting to see how 2021 compares to 2020.

The Mississippi Civil Service Commission will continue to monitor how utilities spend their revenues to increase the efficiency, reliability, resiliency, and security of the U.S. electricity grid. Careful investments in electrical wires, poles, towers, smart technologies and more are needed to replace aging equipment, improve system performance, and accommodate new generation resources.

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