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Hurricane Sandy Reveals US’s Vulnerability To Energy Interruptions | Solar Energy USA Blog Archive

Hurricane Sandy Reveals US’s Vulnerability To Energy Interruptions

Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 at 5:04 pm by Solar Energy USA

Approximately 8 million homeowners lost power as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst hurricanes felt by citizens in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia in many years. It is estimated that Hurricane Sandy’s horrific destruction could cost as much as $60 billion dollars in property damage, lost business, increased living expenses, and other factors.


As of 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) reported 4,500 customers without power. PSE&G reported about 3,000 customers without power Sunday afternoon.

Atlantic City Electric reported there are still approximately 5,000 customers, who, because of extensive damage to their homes, cannot accept electric service at this time. The utility will restore electricity to those homes once it is safe to do so.

There were approximately 51,000 Long Island Power Authority customers without power as of November 13th.

And don’t forget the gas lines and shortages that occurred as a result of disrupted power to gas stations in New Jersey and New York. The supply issues were so bad that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey implemented mandatory, odd-even day, vehicle license plate gas rationing for 12 counties in New Jersey and the U.S. Department of Defense set up temporary gas stations in the New York metropolitan area.


As winter approaches, those still without power in their homes are getting colder and colder. But is this because their houses are not properly weatherized? Writing in the aftermath of the storm, Alex Wilson, executive editor of Environmental Building News and an advocate for the emerging field of resilient design proposed, “By building or retrofitting to achieve resilient design, we can create homes that will never drop below 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit even if the house is totally cut off from power and heating fuel — they can do that with high levels of insulation, top-performing windows, passive solar gain, and other features.”

In a report by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for the State of California Sustainable Building Task Force, green buildings were found to cost 2 percent more upfront on average. However, the energy and materials savings over the lifetime of the building were found to be 20 percent of conventional costs. So implementing green building on a large scale with creative upfront financing would yield more than 10 times the initial investment over the life cycle of the building.

As devastating and horrific as Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath has been totaled, the unfortunate truth is that it will not be the last natural disaster to wreak havoc on a power grid. Before Sandy there was Katrina in 2004 ($81 billion dollars in damages), Bob in 1991 ($1.5 billion), Gloria in 1985 ($900 million), Camille in 1969 ($1.4 billion), and Carol back in 1954 ($460 million).


Hopefully we can learn to better prepare and respond for these types of catastrophes using emergency power systems and solar powered lighting solutions in combination with energy conservation and efficiency measures.

The loss mitigation measures and systems are available – let us spread the word about their viability to fight energy interruptions so that Americans are never again without power, fuel, and safety.