Historically, California, Texas, Washington, Oregon, New York, Iowa, and Oklahoma have had severe outages in the following years: 2021 and 2001; 2021 and 2011; 2021, 2015, and 2009; 2021; 2021, 2012, and 1977; 2021; and 2021 and 2007; respectively. Details of each state’s outages have been provided below.
- California has seen small planned power outages in targeted areas over a 20-year span, however, the most recent round of blackouts was the largest the state has seen in 19 years.
- In the past 20 years, blackouts have been planned in targeted areas to prevent wildfires.
- The most recent blackouts are expected to impact 3.3 million people and were caused due to “ballooning demand, inadequate transmission, an overreliance on renewable energy and natural gas plant challenges during hot weather.”
- The most recent recorded mass power outage in California prior to the current situation was in 2001 impacting 1.5 million people when Enron and other energy traders caused supply issues through market manipulation.
- The state has power outage regulations including specific rules for generators, lighting, machinery, ventilation, and doors.
- The California Energy Commission monitors energy regulation updating the Building regulations every 3 years.
- Texas has had several rolling blackouts over the past 10 years due to weather conditions. Aside from the most recent that left up to 4.5 million without power during severe cold for the region, the state saw the worst blackouts in 2011 during a similar cold spike.
- There is debate about the current reason for the blackouts, however, it has been confirmed that it has something to do with the state’s unique, individual power grid which is separate from the United States power grid and controlled by a company called Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). In addition, officials have placed some blame on renewable energy such as wind turbines. Nothing has been officially confirmed by the state yet, however, they are investigating ERCOT.
- In 2011, the power outages were caused by similar supply issues during the cold weather involving the same company. Residents placed blame on poor planning and bad communication by the company.
- The state has avoided federal regulations since the 1930s due to the individual power grid that does not cross state lines. While the state is officially investigating the power grid, it is not clear if they will transition to a more regulated model for the power grid in the future.
- Washington has had 10 weather-related outages since 1958 with the most recent being 2015 and 2009.
- The reasons for most power outages were related to damages received during storms such as lightning and wind storms, however, in 2009, the state did experience demand issues due to record heat.
- The state has several regulations for power creation and uses, most centered around renewable energy.
- Since 1992, only 6 of the state’s 31 severe outages were due to weather conditions by 2009, however, by 2013, the state’s leading cause of outages transitioned to weather with 118 utility service interruptions, however, none were considered severe outages in that time.
- Regulations in Oregon are managed by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) which “regulates investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities providing service to Oregon residents.”
- New York has had a total of 8 mass power outages since 1959, however, most were due to supply issues or human error from the utility companies directly except for two, one in 1977 and one in 2012.
- In 1977 several lightning strikes cause a massive power outage in New York City damaging both the main power grid and the backup generators.
- In 2012 Super Storm Sandy impacted 24 states, including causing $18 billion in damages to New York alone which is more than the rest of the United States combined. Some areas of the state were out of power for two weeks.
- The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) manages regulation of the renewable energy creation and use in partnership with the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates all state utilities.
- Since 1992, Iowa has had 14 power outages with 9 being due to severe weather, however, the storm in 2021 was the first ever to be declared a level 2 or 3 energy emergency.
- The most common causes of power outages in Iowa are severe thunderstorms and heat.
- The Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulates all utilities in the state while the Iowa Utilities Board, the primary regulatory authority, “regulates the rates and services of two investor-owned electric companies, MidAmerican Energy Company (MidAmerican) and Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL), a subsidiary of Alliant Energy.”
- Oklahoma has had 8 severe power outages since 1992 with 7 being caused by severe weather.
- The most common severe weather to cause outages is ice storms with the worst hitting in 2007.
- The Utility Regulation Unit is the authority that regulates utilities in order to advocate for consumers.
- The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates the creation and use of energy in the states.
- Both authorities are overseen by the Oklahoma Attorney General.