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Mission impossible? How utilities are minimizing disruptions from inevitable storms

September 26, 2017

Three monster storms in just the last month have pummeled the United States and Puerto Rico, killing more than 100 people, destroying thousands of homes and inflicting economic losses in the hundreds of billions.

Predictably, millions of homes lost power. All of Puerto Rico is in the dark following Hurricane Maria. Not even half of Florida residents had power after Hurricane Irma. In Texas, Hurricane Harvey took 10,000 MW offline.

For all the talk of grid hardening and resiliency, keeping the lights on in a major hurricane — Category 3, 4 or 5 — may just be impossible. The triple-digit wind speeds are more than most infrastructure can handle, and debris and flooding are lethal for an electric grid. But utility efforts are paying dividends — on the recovery side.

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