Page last updated
2012 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 some major power outages and related
stories as reported in the media for this time period. The most recent are listed
- Massive Solar Superstorm barely missed blasting the earth back to the
On July 23, 2012, we had no idea how close we were to a massive blackout caused by a huge magnetic superstorm from the Sun.
The storm was caused by a rapid succession of coronal mass ejections, intense eruptions from the surface of the Sun, which hurtled out into space through the Earth’s orbit. If it had happened just nine days earlier, our world would have been hit, wreaking havoc with the electrical grid, knocking out satellites and GPS and costing economies billions of dollars.
A team has now analyzed the magnetic storm, which was detected by NASA’s STEREO A spacecraft and published their results in Nature Communications.
“Had [the latest storm] hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” said Janet Luhmann, who is part of the STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Observatory) team and based at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory.
That 1859 big one, referred to as the Carrington Event, is the most severe solar storm ever recorded on the planet. At the time the only electric lines were telegraphs. And the induced voltages caused the lines to fail and start fires.
"People keep saying that these are rare natural hazards, but they are happening in the Solar System even though we don’t always see them.”
A small magnetic event in 1989 collapsed Canada’s Hydro-Quebec power grid and led to six million people going without electricity.
The cost of an extreme space weather event, if it hits Earth, could reach trillions of dollars with a potential recovery time of 4-10 years.”
A study last year estimated that a second Carrington event could cost the world $2.6
and various other new reports, March 19, 2014
- Hurricane Sandy blacks out northeast
A late season hurricane took an unusual track
that resulted in major damage and power outages to over 8 million
customers in the northeast. The highest numbers of customers without
power were in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Severe
flooding, damage and erosion plagued the Jersey shore and New York
coastal areas. After a week about 1.4 million customers were still
without power. Click the image here below for a state by state
--various new reports,
October 30 and November 5, 2012
- Power outages hit Brazil
SAO PAULO — Fire forced the shutdown of a
transformer causing a power outage in five Brazilian states, the
country's Electric System Operator said on Thursday. Then hours later
the Brasilia Energy Company said another power outage hit the Brazilian
capital leaving at least 1.7 million people without electricity. This
was caused by a brush fire that damaged part of a transmission line
outside the capital. About two weeks ago, a power outage caused by
a transformer hit six states in northeastern Brazil affecting more than
5 million people.
and other reports
- Unusual storm knocks out power to thousands in
SEATTLE — A Pacific Northwest storm brought
snow, ice and powerful winds on Thursday resulting in power outages to
tens of thousands in Oregon and Washington state. And an expected
thaw is causing flooding concerns. There were still 240,000
without power on Friday afternoon, mostly on Puget Sound Energy's system
around Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. Even legislative buildings and
other state agencies in the capital of Olympia, Washington lost power.
and other reports