New York Still Vulnerable 12 Years After Historic Blackout
For 45 million people in eight Northeastern states and parts of Canada, August 14, 2003 proved just how crucial it is to have reliable electric power. On that day, a massive blackout shut off the electricity that is crucial not only to our lives and livelihoods, but also to our health and safety.
Most people still remember where they were when it happened.
The blackout affected 15 million New Yorkers—many of whom went for over 24 hours without being able to run the air conditioning, turn on the lights, charge electronic devices, or ride in elevators.
The blackout was far more than an inconvenience: total economic losses tallied $6 billion. Worst of all, nearly 100 people in New York City died from accidents, stress-triggered heart attacks, and asthma from increased pollution according to a 2012 Johns Hopkins University study of the blackout’s health effects.
This kind of loss is especially hard, and, sadly, it could happen again if we don’t act now to stop another major blackout. Over the years since the 2003 blackout, New York’s electricity providers have worked hard to keep the power flowing, but we face several significant challenges.
First, we need enough power generation to keep pace with our growing population and with the increasing use of electrical devices in just about every aspect of our lives. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total electricity demand is expected to increase by more than 30% by 2035.