From Popular Science, August 17, 2020
As Tropical Storm Isaias swept the East Coast earlier this month, more than two million people were left without power. The outages went on for days in some places. In Connecticut, more than 4,000 people lacked power a week after the storm.
As climate change progresses and infrastructure crumbles, such blackouts may become more common. Outages have been on the rise in recent decades, and utilities might be ill-prepared to take on the dual challenge of responding to intensifying weather events and upgrading aging facilities.
The oldest American power lines date back to the 1880s, and most of today’s grid was built in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. When these poles, wires, and transformers went up decades ago, the system was initially overbuilt, with growing demand anticipated, says Alexandra von Meier, an electrical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley. But now, it’s reaching capacity and old equipment is flickering out.
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