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White House Report: Power Outages Expected to Increase, Get More Expensive

PHOTO: The White House warns that extreme weather caused or exacerbated by climate change poses an expensive threat to the nation's power grid.
PHOTO: The White House warns that extreme weather caused or exacerbated by climate change poses an expensive threat to the nation's power grid.
August 13, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Marylanders know the headaches that come with prolonged power outages, and now, a White House report warns there could be more to come. It says severe weather is the number-one cause of power outages in the United States, costing the nation an average of $18 billion to $33 billion a year. The Obama administration says it wants to strengthen the power grid as climate change increases the intensity and severity of storms.

According to Josh Saks, legislative director for the National Wildlife Federation, new protections are critical.

"We've seen hurricanes in the past ten years push up through Annapolis and parts of Maryland," Saks recalled. "And I would say Maryland needs to continue to work towards resiliency, because climate change issues are only going to exacerbate."

The blackout-tracking company Eaton says there were 55 power outages in Maryland last year, and more than half of them were caused by weather.

Saks said he hopes the White House will continue to address more of the causes and consequences of climate change.

"This report is a great step forward for the White House," he declared. "They've acknowledged there's a problem. They've acknowledged this problem in one small space, the energy grid. But, we recognize this is part of a broader plan, and we look forward to working with the White House to address climate change issues broadly."

The White House is proposing a $200 million "Race to the Top" grant contest for states that improve energy efficiency and power grid resiliency.

Link to that report at energy.gov.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD