White House calls for increased grid spending to prevent power outages

Power grid upgrades 1

NEW YORK - The cost of weather-related power outages is rising as storms grow more severe and the U.S. electric grid gets older, according to an Obama Administration report, which calls for increased spending on the nation's electric power system.

Power outages cost $18 billion to $33 billion per year, according to the report, a figure that has been rising steadily over the past 20 years. That can rise to $40 billion to $75 billion in years with severe storms such as 2008's Hurricane Ike and last year's Superstorm Sandy, the latter of which knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people, some for as long as a week or more.

The White House report said spending to make the grid stronger and more flexible will save the economy billions.

Thunderstorms, hurricanes, blizzards and other extreme weather caused 58 percent of all outages since 2002 and 87 percent of outages affecting 50,000 or more customers.

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