The American Society of Civil Engineers finds that failing to spend on grid upgrades will end up costing U.S. homes and businesses nearly $200 billion by 2020.
Here’s another grim reminder that doing nothing to fix the United States’ power grid will be a lot more expensive in the long run than spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bring it up to 21st-century technological standards.
The American Society of Civil Engineers just released its latest “Failure to Act” report on the country’s deteriorating infrastructure, this one focused on the power delivery system. In simple terms, ASCE’s report finds a gap of $107 billion dollars between today’s trends on grid investment and what the country needs to invest between now and 2020.
If U.S. utilities and regulators don’t work to increase spending trends to make up that gap, the result will be a “combination of aging equipment and capacity bottlenecks that lead to the same general outcome — a greater incidence of electricity interruptions,” the report finds. Those may come as equipment failures, voltage surges and power quality irregularities, or blackouts and brownouts due to demand exceeding supply — and all of that carries costs.
ASCE’s estimates of current 2012 costs to such grid problems are about $6 billion for U.S. households and $10 billion for U.S. businesses. But by 2020, they add up to $71 billion for households and $126 billion for businesses, the report finds. Added up, that $197 billion in costs is nearly twice as much as the $107 billion in investment needed to fix the problem.