Americans Say Energy Resiliency Worth the Money – Even before Hermine

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NOAA satellite image of Hermine

Keeping the lights on is more important than keeping energy bills down, according to a new survey by G&S Business Communications.

Of the more than 2,000 U.S. voters surveyed, 68 percent said that they would rather have energy resiliency than lower electricity costs.

Interestingly, it was not recent bad memories of outages that evoked the sentiment — or at least that’s how it seems from the response to another question. Only 35 percent said that they experience more power outages now than five years ago, according to the survey results released this week by G&S in its “Sense and Sensibility Study.”

It’s hard to know if their answers would have been different had the survey been done post Hermine. G&S queried participants about energy resiliency August 4-8, and the tropical cyclone hit the U.S. later, in early September.

Separately, the Energy Information Administration today offered a picture of the widespread and prolonged outages Hermine created in Tallahassee, Florida.

News reports said more than 80 percent of customers in the city experienced power interruptions.  This is in keeping with the severe disparity between actual versus forecasted demand for power in Tallahassee that day, according to EIA.

The city was using only 51,000 kWh between 8 and 9 a.m. September 2 after the tropical cyclone caused widespread outages. In contrast, Tallahassee had expected to use 296,000 kWh at the time, an 83 percent difference, said EIA.

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It took about a week for Tallahassee to fully regain electric service. Neighboring Jacksonville and Gainesville also experienced outages, but to a lesser extent.

In all, Hermine knocked out power to 1.3 million electric customers in the southeastern US, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Meanwhile, it appears Americans continue to be worried about the state of electric infrastructure. Eighty percent of 2,000 registered voters polled in another survey, this one by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), say the nation’s energy grids are in need of extreme repair.

About eight of 10 surveyed said that solar powered homes and smart infrastructure should be priorities. AEM conducted its poll June 17-20.

Separately, municipal utilities gained some bragging points on energy resiliency in early September. EIA reported that muni customers experienced fewer outages in 2015 than customers served by other kinds of utilities.

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Muni customers averaged one outage and about two hours of interrupted service, while customers of investor-owned utilities averaged slightly more than three hours without electric service. Co-op customers fared the worst, averaging nearly five hours without power, about twice as many outages as customers of IOU and municipal utilities.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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