From the “ignore all the severe weather outbreaks in the prior century, we’ve got something to prove” department. Imagine if a climate skeptic skeptic scientists released a 13 year study on ANYTHING related to weather or climate – they’d be excoriated for not having a long enough sample. Note that this is not a peer reviewed study, just something published on their website only. The fact that they cite a 2013 White House report, suggests this might have a political origination rather than a scientific one.
Berkeley Lab releases most comprehensive analysis of electricity reliability trends
New report finds that increasingly severe weather is linked to longer lasting power outages
From: DOE/LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY
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 at:http://emp.lbl.gov/publications/assessing-changes-reliabi
Although a 2013 White House report noted that major power outages and severe weather events are increasing, this study is the first of its kind to use econometric analysis techniques to statistically correlate these events with electricity reliability. Most studies of reliability have relied on information that reflects only the largest power outages. Yet, over the course of any given year, the largest events typically account for no more than 10 percent of all power outages. This study, by relying on information for all power outages, both large and small, conclusively identifies a trend that is linked directly to these larger events.
One surprise was that the study did not find a consistent link between reliability and utility transmission and distribution (T&D) expenditures. “We expected to find that increased spending on T&D would lead to improved reliability, but it is possible that a combination of proactive versus reactive utility maintenance policies may be off-setting this effect on reliability,” Larsen said. He anticipates that future research will be able sort this out through more detailed analysis of utility spending practices.
Co-author and Berkeley Lab Staff Scientist Joseph Eto said: “We hope the findings from the study will provide a more solid basis upon which to ground future private and public decisions on the long-term reliability of the U.S. electric power system.”
This work was funded by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, National Electricity Delivery Division of the U.S. Department of Energy. Other co-authors were Kristina H. LaCommare of Berkeley Lab and James L. Sweeney of Stanford.
Assessing Changes in the Reliability of the U.S. Electric Power System
Recent catastrophic weather events, existing and prospective federal and state policies, and growing investments in smart grid technologies have drawn renewed attention to the reliability of the U.S. electric power system. Whether electricity reliability is getting better or worse as a result of these or other factors has become a material issue for public and private decisions affecting the U.S. electric power system.
This study examines the statistical relationship between annual changes in electricity reliability reported by a large cross‐section of U.S. electricity distribution utilities over a period of 13 years, and a broad set of potential explanatory variables including various measures of weather and utility characteristics.
We find statistically significant correlations between the average number of power interruptions experienced annually by a customer and a number of explanatory variables including wind speed, precipitation, lightning strikes, and the number of customers per line mile. We also find statistically significant correlations between the average total duration of power interruptions experienced annually by a customer and wind speed, precipitation, cooling degree‐days, the percentage share of underground transmission and distribution lines. In addition, we find a statistically significant trend in the duration of power interruptions over time—especially when major events are included. This finding suggests that increased severity of major events over time has been the principal contributor to the observed trend.
UPDATE: WUWT reader Eric adds this in comments:
Having several friends working in the power industry they have repeatedly said that the biggest single reason for the length of outages has to do with utilities reducing the number of personnel available to respond to outages. This has been in response to investor pressures. Now outages which would have lasted a few hours 20 years ago are stretched into days.