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Climate change blamed for increase in power outages

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The number of major power outages in the United States has doubled since 2003, according to a report from Climate Central. They put the bulk of the blame on an increase in severe storms spawned by climate change.

"We know that climate change is making weather more extreme and we know that extreme weather is a factor in these major power outages," said Alyson Kenward, senior scientist at Climate Central.

The report found that Ohio saw  54 major power outages, impacting more than 50,000 customers or at least 300 megawatts of electric, from 2003 to 2012. That's the third highest number in the nation, bested only by Michigan and Texas.

"Because Ohio is densely populated with a lot of infrastructure and the power lines are above ground in a lot of places it's really vulnerable to these large-scale power outages," said Kenward.

Ohio saw two of the largest power outages in the state's history when the remnants of Hurricane Ike hit the area with powerful winds in 2008 and again in 2012 when a weather phenomenon known as a derecho hit.

Utility companies often do maintenance around their power lines, like tree trimming, but sometimes those efforts aren't enough.

"This is really a combination of extreme weather coupled with aging infrastructure that's making all the states a target for more power outages, including Ohio," Kenward said.

Columbus-based American Electric Power saw the highest number of outages, likely because they have such a large service territory. Duke Energy was 5th on the list.

 

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