US Puerto Rico's power outage is now the second-largest blackout in history

09:51  17 april  2018
09:51  17 april  2018 Source:   cnn.com

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Share Puerto Rico ’ s blackout , the largest in American history , explained. Even though power outages are common after large storms, several key factors have made the situation in Puerto Rico uniquely dangerous and deadly.

Share Puerto Rico ’ s blackout is now the second largest on record worldwide. (The metric here is “customer-hours,” which is the number of customers without power multiplied by the duration of the outage .)

  Puerto Rico's power outage is now the second-largest blackout in history © NOAA

You may have thought the world had run out of superlatives to describe the misery that Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico. Well now, here's another one: second-largest blackout in history.

Since the monster storm slammed into the American Caribbean territory in September 2017 and heavily damaged the power grid, more than 3.4 billion hours of electricity have been lost there. That makes it the second-longest blackout in world history, according to a report from the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm.

The only blackout in world history bigger than Puerto Rico's is the one that came after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013. About 6.1 billion hours of power were lost after that massive storm.

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Another hurricane this year also made the list, with Irma being the fourth largest blackout in American history owing to huge power outages in Florida and Georgia. But what’ s happening in Puerto Rico is in a class of its own.

As of the beginning of this week, more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans were still without power . What was already the largest blackout in American history has now likely become, in our analysis, the second largest blackout in the world.

The Rhodium Group analysis largely relies on data on electricity loss provided to the Department of Energy, as well as news reports for storms prior to 2000, according to Trevor Houser, a partner at Rhodium who co-wrote the analysis with Peter Marsters. The analysis leaves out war-related destruction of electrical infrastructure.

A Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority lineman attaches an electrical insulator to a new utility pole in a residential area in Gurabo, Puerto Rico on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, US-PuertoRico-power-weather-reconstruction-hurricane (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images) © RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images/FILE A Puerto Rico Electric and Power Authority lineman attaches an electrical insulator to a new utility pole in a residential area in Gurabo, Puerto Rico on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGO / TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Leila MACOR, US-PuertoRico-power-weather-reconstruction-hurricane (Photo credit should read RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images)

The worst in US history

Houser said the group analyzes the economic impacts of weather and climate events, and they decided to dig in more deeply on the impacts of Maria on the Puerto Rican economy.

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Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico in late September of last year, seriously damaging much of the island’ s infrastructure and its electrical grid. Today, nearly seven months later, more than 100,000 Puerto Ricans remain without power in what is now likely the second largest blackout in world.

In terms of the total number of lost hours of electricity, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are in the midst of the largest blackout in US history , according to a report from an economic research company.

"As we started looking at the scale of the blackout and try to put that in historical context, it became clear this was a record-breaking event and worthy of some attention and focus just from an electric standpoint," Houser said.

The blackout is already the worst in US history, beating out Hurricane Georges in 1998 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Right now, Rhodium estimates power has been restored to 96% of the island, meaning that 53,000 households -- between 100,000 and 200,000 people -- still don't have electricity, some seven months after the storm.

Houser and Marsters said their research shows that "making existing electricity supply more resilient to storm-related disruptions in both developed and developing countries is also important, particularly given recent and projected changes in the global climate."

Anger spreads across Puerto Rico over lack of basic services .
Puerto Rico's Senate has ordered government agencies to explain why tens of thousands of people in rural areas remain without power or appropriate shelter as anger grows about the lack of basic services more than seven months after Hurricane MariaSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico's Senate has ordered government agencies to explain why tens of thousands of people in rural areas remain without power or appropriate shelter as anger grows about the lack of basic services more than seven months after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

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