We applaud the Obama administration’s recent report on the Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages. The report calls for increased spending to revitalize the nation’s aging electric power system to improve resiliency against severe weather events. The report is an important call to action designed to spur momentum in modernizing our electric grid and raise awareness of the economic risks that come with not investing in revitalizing our grid.
Severe weather is the number one cause of power outages in the U.S. and costs the economy billions of dollars a year in lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, inconvenience and damage to grid infrastructure. The report estimates the average annual cost of power outages caused by severe weather to be between $18 billion and $33 billion per year. In a year with record breaking storms, the cost can be much higher.
Creating a resilient electric grid is critical to reducing our vulnerability to severe weather. Furthermore, as highlighted in the report, smart grid technology designed to increase resilience can improve the overall effectiveness of grid operations leading to great efficiencies in energy use and reduction in carbon emissions. As utilities look to modernize the grid they not only have the opportunity to improve resiliency against storm damage, drive greater energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, but also to support the increased integration of renewables.
Intelligent energy management and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure is critical. Our experience shows that the simple act of evaluating and monitoring energy usage leads to more efficient consumption. Some of our customers save up to 30% of their energy consumption. By lowering operational costs many organizations are able to free up scarce resources to invest in modernizing infrastructure. Through investments in our infrastructure, the grid will become more automated and interconnected and will enable greater energy efficiency.
In our view, modernizing the electric grid is the foundation for creating smarter, more resilient data centers, homes, buildings, cities and communities. Collaboration across all levels of government and the private sector will be key to enabling the development of the Smart Grid and ultimately to creating a more sustainable, energy efficient country.
Many thanks to the Obama administration for continuing to focus on this important issue and for encouraging the collaboration needed to make a smarter, more resilient grid a reality. There is much more to do, but this report continues to drive our country on a good path as it calls for comprehensive planning and execution on the next generation of smart grid.
Senior Vice President, Infrastructure