Eaton’s 2017 Blackout Tracker Report shows the number of power outages decreased last year, but the number of people impacted by power outages more than doubled from 2016.
The report looks at all ways power failures occur, from storm damage to human error to outages involving animals destroying power lines. All power outages were tabulated for the report, from small incidents that left few homes or businesses in the dark to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which caused widespread outages.
In 2017, Eaton reports 3,526 outages in the United States, which is down by more than 300 from 2016. Eaton says that is a 9% drop. But, the number of people impacted by power outages increased by nearly 19 million, from 17.9 million in 2016 to 36.7 million in 2017.
Hurricane Harvey is one of the major reasons for the huge increase in the number of people impacted by power outages. It was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in two years, and it hit a densely populated area around Houston.
Right after Harvey, Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, knocking out power to a record 16 million people. Florida alone saw 15 million people lose power from the storm, with nearly 800,000 losing power in Georgia and 200,000 more in South Carolina.
While crews were able to restore power to 99 percent of the victims within 10 days of Hurricane Irma, Florida officials determined it was the largest power restoration project in U.S. history. Damage from Irma is expected to cost more than $50 billion.
Across the country, according to the Eaton Blackout Tracker, power outages lasted a total of 4,735 hours, or 197 days. The average number of people impacted by a single power outage was 10,261, and the average length of a power outage was 81 minutes.
For the third year in a row, California had the most power outages, with 438. Texas was second, New York third, and Ohio fourth. Vermont had the fewest outages in 2017 with 11.
Eaton also pointed out the number of outages caused by either faulty equipment or human error. In 2017, 791 outages were caused by equipment problems or mistakes on a job site. That number is down from 925 in 2016 and 942 in 2015. Not surprisingly, the states with the highest number of outages as a result of faulty equipment or human error are the same states that had the most outages: California, Texas, New York, and Ohio.
You can download Eaton’s Blackout Tracker Report here.