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2006 Outage News
The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) compiles reports on outages. Click to go to their web site for a list of outages sorted by year.
The following is a list of news summaries of major power outages and related stories as reported in the media for this time period. The most recent are listed first.
Deaths mount in Midwest due to
continuing power outages
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Deaths from bitter cold, falls in darkened homes and poisonous fumes from makeshift fires mounted on Monday in Illinois and Missouri as power outages now in their fourth day created hardships for hundreds of thousands, authorities said. Ice-coated tree limbs broke off and brought down more power lines even as utility crews enlisted from 14 states helped restore electricity to tens of thousands of others. At the peak of the storm that struck the Midwest late on Thursday and Friday, more than half a million customers of Ameren Corp. had lost power. More than 300,000 Illinois and Missouri customers of Ameren were still without power on Monday, the utility said. [Many remained without power even after a week.] National Guard troops in both states checked on abandoned vehicles and on residents shivering in unheated homes as temperatures dipped into the teens at night. Two men burning coal in a cooking wok died on Sunday, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Another man died when he tumbled down the stairs in his darkened home, and authorities found a man dead in his backyard from the cold. At least eight people have died in the St. Louis area in the aftermath of the storm, the newspaper said.
Macon Daily, Tue Dec 5, 2006.
Two perfect storms
Back-to-back, 100-year hurricanes devastated oil rigs in Gulf in 2006 and a year later recovery is still in progress. Katrina in late August and Rita in September tore through the Gulf of Mexico's offshore oil and gas fields with winds of 170 miles per hour, toppling production platforms, setting rigs adrift and rupturing pipelines. As the storms moved ashore, high winds and flooding also damaged gas-processing plants. More than 170,000 miles of power lines were downed, knocking out service to about 5 million utility customers.
Bloomberg News, excerpts from The Washington Times, August 24, 2006.
Future power shortages likely
Another energy crisis of the magnitude seen in California in 2001, with rolling blackouts and soaring power rates, could occur before the end of the decade because the use of power is growing rapidly, but planning is inadequate for building new plants and facilities needed to provide future power. Spare capacity is rapidly dwindling in the Washington-Baltimore area, California, New York, New England and Florida, which are the most congested urban regions. Worries about the adequacy of power were heightened this summer when the Maryland General Assembly forced Baltimore Gas & Electric to defer for several years recovery of its increased fuel costs, raising questions about where utilities will get the money they need to upgrade the power grid and add generating capacity. Cambridge Energy Research Associates also concluded recently that the mid-Atlantic and some other areas with rising demand will experience supply deficiencies within two to five years unless investments in generation and transmission are made, or conservation measures are taken immediately. Wachovia Securities analysts see a recipe for disaster: "Combine election-year politics, bitterness between Democrats and Republicans, tightly contested races, politically motivated attorneys general (AG can also denote 'aspiring governor'), then toss in the issue of rising utility rates, and suddenly you've got a horse that everyone can flog. That's great, unless you're the horse."
excerpts from Area power supply adequate--for now, The Washington Times, August 22, 2006.
Forecast calls for a stormy sun
Sun-spawned cosmic storms that can play havoc with earthly power grids and orbiting satellites could be 50 percent stronger in the next 11-year solar cycle than in the last one, scientists said yesterday. "This prediction of an active solar cycle suggests we're potentially looking at more communications disruptions, more satellite failures, possible disruptions of electrical grids and blackouts, more dangerous conditions for astronauts," said Richard Behnke of the Upper Atmosphere Research Section at the National Science Foundation. However, there is disagreement as to whether the active period will start within months or years.
Reuters News Agency, excerpts from The Washington Times, March 7, 2006.
We foresee another very active Atlantic basin tropical cyclone season in 2006
FORT COLLINS, CO - Colorado State issues their hurricane forecast for 2006 and it looks like another rough year. Information obtained through November 2005 indicates that the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will be much more active than the average 1950-2000 season. We estimate that 2006 will have about 9 hurricanes (average is 5.9), 17 named storms (average is 9.6), 85 named storm days (average is 49.1), 45 hurricane days (average is 24.5), 5 intense (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.3) and 13 intense hurricane days (average is 5.0). The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 55 percent above the long-period average. We expect Atlantic basin Net Tropical Cyclone activity in 2006 to be about 195 percent of the long-term average.
Dept. of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, December 6, 2005.
Coastal damage in Alabama and
Mississippi under reported
Duke University performed a Hurricane Katrina Aerial Impact Reconnaissance Assessment on Sept 2nd of the Alabama and Mississippi coast. A total of 331 images covering about 130 miles are available for viewing on the web at http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/psds/katrina.htm and show extensive damage and destruction of property, roads and even bridges. In many cases all that remains of buildings close to the shore line are the slab foundations.
Private communication from M. Curry, November 7, 2005.