Resilience Strategies for Power Outages

A warming atmosphere is giving extra energy to storms, making the hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms of today more intense than those of the past. This trend is projected to accelerate in the years to come. These stronger storms are more likely to cause power outages, and the loss of power can be costly in terms of lives lost, economic impact, and public health. This fact sheet outlines strategies that local governments could implement to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages and help communities better withstand them when they do occur. For each resilience strategy, the paper discusses costs and co-benefits, both of which are important considerations for implementing strategies. A case study of New Orleans looks at the different strategies put in place since Hurricane Katrina caused widespread destruction in 2005 and the performance of those strategies to the hurricanes that have made landfall since. The paper also includes a list of tools for quantifying the co-benefits of the resilience strategies discussed.

Key Takeaways

  • Climate change is causing stronger storms that could mean more power outages unless communities prepare.
  • Local government strategies to reduce the likelihood and impact of power outages include hardening distribution systems, diversifying production and storage, improving energy efficiency and emergency planning.
  • Local resilience strategies often provide co-benefits, such as reduced disaster losses, lowered greenhouse gas emissions, improved public health, and better air quality.
  • Cities should consider comprehensive resilience strategies as New Orleans has done through electricity system hardening, microgrids, efficiency programs for homes and businesses, and improved hurricane preparedness communication.