April 7, 2022

US Power: How Much Do We Use, Why Are Power Outages Increasing, and How Do We Prepare?

power-lines-during-sunset

It seems like we have heard a lot about US Power lately, from how we get it to bills for updating the power grid to the unfortunate power outages that significant storms have caused. Most of us have a general knowledge about electricity but can't tell you the first thing about a power grid. After reading this, you may not be a master lineman, but you will at least walk away with some statistics and a slightly better understanding of the United States' power grids and how to prepare for the future. 

US Power Usage

It won't come as a surprise that the US is in the top three for electricity consumers globally. According to World Population Review, the US comes in second only to Russia in electricity use with a staggering 3.9 trillion kilowatts per hour. Of all forms of power used in the US, electricity tops the list at 38%, but as the push for renewable electricity over fossil fuels continues, that number will likely only grow. 

What Causes Power Outages

Power outages seem to be becoming a regular part of many of our lives, whether it is just your block or the entire city's power grid going down. It is hard for municipalities to predict and prevent power outages because of so many causes. As weather patterns worsen and infrastructure deteriorates, these outages seem to be more frequent and last longer. 

Mother Nature

By far, one of the most significant hazards to the power grid is mother nature. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is massive storms with high winds and heavy rainfall, but we have seen wildfires, ice storms, and floods shut down US power grids in the past few years. 

Trees

On a local level, falling trees have been known to knock out the power to entire blocks, leaving those without generators stuck without electricity from hours to days. 

Unlucky Critters

Another unexpected act of nature that will leave those without backup power stranded is critters like squirrels chewing through the lines, which happens occasionally. This spells bad news for the squirrel, but it also means that the linemen must pinpoint where the line was damaged and fix it. 

Humans

One of the more frustrating causes of a power outage is humans, and it is not always an error. There have been documented cases of human error creating a blackout, but it is more likely that a planned blackout to fix equipment is the reason. The good news about that is that these blackouts are usually short-lived. Unfortunately, as we have seen recently, humans can also cause a power outage through cyber-attacks meant to hold the power companies hostage. 

Aging Infrastructure and Demand

Many power grids across the country haven't got the attention they need to be running at peak capacity in a world where the average home has 11 devices to charge along with all of our other electricity-hogging appliances. Failing components and a lack of supply to deal with the demand lead to rolling blackouts and brownouts in some areas. 

How to Be Prepared

There isn't a lot that home and business owners can do to prevent power outages, but they can be prepared. Having the right backup power generator can prevent you from being in the dark and keep your business running like normal. Having the right machinery and the fuel you need to power it is essential, especially when you run a business that can't be without power for long periods. There are many sizes and types of generators, so there is sure to be one that works for your needs.