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Jan 4, 2023

The Most At-Risk States for Power Outages

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Key Takeaways

  • In the last 20 years, Florida has had the most people per capita impacted by power outages — more than 900,000.
  • In 2022, California accounted for 24% of all U.S. power outages, and Texas accounted for 14%.
  • California, Texas, and Pennsylvania are the states most affected by power outages during the winter.

Analyzing Grid Reliability

The effects of extreme weather and outdated power infrastructure are increasingly causing Americans to feel powerless – literally and figuratively. Knowing the stability of your local power grid can help you be prepared for potential outages or even decide where to live.

To find out which U.S. residents may most want to stock up on supplies like flashlights, candles, and generators, we collected and analyzed data on reported power emergencies and disturbances from the last 20 years nationwide.

Which states have had it worst?

First, we looked at which states saw the most energy customers lose power over the past two decades and where the most outages occurred in 2022. Let’s look at how your home state stacks up in terms of power security.

Infographic that explores which states are most affected by power outages in 2022
Infographic that explores which states are most affected by power outages in 2022

Over the past two decades, more Florida energy customers have experienced a power outage than those of any other state: over 900,000. But in 2022, Texas took the top spot for the highest number of impacted customers. After the historic failure of the state’s power grid in 2021, the state may still be struggling to update its infrastructure to keep up with extreme weather. That might also be why Texas accounted for 14% of the nation’s total power outages in 2022.

Meanwhile, almost one-quarter of 2022 power outages occurred in California. This state also came in first for the most power outages overall in the last 20 years: 2,684. Due to a combination of increasing temperatures, droughts, wildfires, a strained power grid, and human error, many Californians face uncertain access to energy.

Draining the Grid

High power consumption might seem like a good indicator of the prevalence of power outages across each state, but that may not be the case. Next, we looked at which states use the most and lose the most power.

States that use the most vs. lose the most power infographic
States that use the most vs. lose the most power infographic

Louisiana used the most power in 2022 at a rate of nearly 265 megawatts (MW) per capita, followed by Wyoming, Alaska, and North Dakota. But Louisiana’s 17 outages numbered far fewer than those in the Golden State; California had 142 power outages this year and used 51.3 MW per capita. Clearly, power use doesn’t always correlate with power emergencies.

In contrast, Texas experienced power issues and high usage in 2022. The state came in sixth for the most power consumption per capita and second for the most outages, with 82 reported in 2022. On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York, and California had the lowest energy consumption per person, with about 50 or fewer MW per capita each.

Looking Forward to 2023

What does the future hold for our nation’s power supply? Lastly, we looked at which states may be on track for the most outages in the coming year.

Power outages by season infographic
Power outages by season infographic

California stands out as the state with the most power outages between 2002 and 2022. This state had a total of 94 outages, 28 more than second-place holder, Florida. The likelihood of an outage is much higher in California than in any other state. The biggest difference was noted in the fall, when the number of power outages in California was 1,348% higher than the national average.

As for the Sunshine State, Florida’s energy problems are likely due to the seemingly relentless onslaught of hurricanes compounded by supply chain issues. California and Florida had more power outages than the other top eight states combined.

Texas saw its greatest number of outages compared to the rest of the U.S. during the summer. It had 667% more outages than the rest of the country during the hottest season (a total of 627 statewide). New York came in a distant third during the same season, with only 255 outages on average.

A Brighter Outlook

Although Florida’s major hurricanes landed it in the top spot for the most people affected by power outages in the past 20 years, the outages in Texas impacted the most individual U.S. energy customers this year. The new “normal” of extreme weather has people using more energy than ever before, so updating energy infrastructure is likely to be the main factor in fixing the problem. However, high energy consumption didn’t always align with the number of power outages in a state, so it’s not always the cause of a blackout.

In the meantime, it’s best to be prepared for an outage. Make sure you have plenty of batteries to power necessary electronics like flashlights, stockpile some nonperishable foods, and consider investing in a generator. In the event of an outage, know where your local heating and cooling locations are in case you need emergency relief. And no matter what, don’t try to heat your home with a gas oven.

Methodology

We collected and analyzed data from energy.gov on reported electric emergency incidents and disturbances in the last 20 years (2002-2022).

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