Digital attacks can cause havoc in different places all at the same time.
Nuclear threats are serious – but officials, the media and the public keep a close eye on them. There's less attention to the dangers of cyberattacks, which could cripple key utilities.
In a power outage, some lights are on, but others are not.
Electric utilities have a right to make money on their government-granted monopolies, but customers also have a right to know what cyber-protections they would get if they paid more.
On the hook: California utility PG&E declared bankruptcy due to liabilities linked to power lines and wildfires.
AP Photo/Ben Margot
The electric utility is seeing rapid changes and threats that affect consumers, from more wind and solar to wildfires. How they react depends in large part on regulators.
This is what a 5-megawatt, lithium-ion energy storage system looks like.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Energy storage could prove an inexpensive way for power companies to handle heat waves and other times when consumers use more electricity than usual.
Climate change denial, underwater.
The results of a study that measured public responses to a policy aimed at reducing carbon emissions contradict a common environmental concern.
Florida’s Turkey Point Nuclear Plant shut down 12 hours before Hurricane Andrew made landfall in 1992.
AP Photo/Phil Sandlin
Lessons learned from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the Fukushima disaster in 2011 have changed how utilities brace for big storms.
The shrinking supply of Colorado River water is evident at the Hoover Dam on the border of Arizona and Nevada.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Taking millions of gallons of water permanently out of the Colorado River amid a prolonged drought would surely start an interstate fight.
Homes surrounded by water from the flooded Brazos River in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Freeport, Texas, Sept. 1, 2017.
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Many people board up their houses and stay in place during disasters – but often they aren't prepared to go without water, power or transportation for days or weeks afterward.
A man reads the newspaper by flashlight during the Northeast Blackout in August 2003.
AP Photo/Joe Kohen
As South American countries recover from a massive blackout, the US isn't immune: The Northeast Blackout of 2003 cut power to 50 million people, and many threats to the electricity grid remain.
The high-voltage lines carrying electricity across the U.S. aren’t the only potential targets.
Power utilities' cybersecurity practices may be effective, but need to evolve over time. And all companies operating elements of the grid – even the small ones – should step up.
Who’s in control of what’s flowing in these wires?
D Sharon Pruitt
Experts explain the task of securing the electrical grid against cyberattacks, and discuss potential solutions and the risk of failure.
“No Linky” posters in Montreuil, near Paris. The first one reads “Linky: You can say no.” The second reads “Linky spies on your private life.” Some residents fear data surveillance rather than looking at possible advantages of smart meters.
A recent study suggests that smart meters can help households reduce their electricity use by as much as 5%. Are France’s anti-Linky households listening?
Block Island Wind, the first offshore wind energy project in the U.S., started operation in 2016.
A recent survey of electric utility leaders finds that Trump administration efforts to promote coal energy and roll back air pollution regulations have had little impact on their long-range plans.
Hackers can interfere with everyday efforts to keep the lights on.
It's easier to see how customers benefit from increased grid security than it is to justify making them pay for it.
Construction at Plant Vogtle, Georgia, Dec. 1, 2014.
Nuclear power provides 60 percent of US carbon-free electricity generation, but existing plants are aging and only one is under construction. Should government intervene to keep nuclear energy in the mix?
Solar home designed by University of Maryland students for the Department of Energy’s 2017 Solar Decathlon.
DOE Solar Decathlon
Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the US needs to subsidize nuclear and coal power plants to keep the grid stable. But this policy would raise energy costs and could drive consumers off-grid instead.
The imposition of steep duties on imported solar panel components could jeopardize thousands of jobs in the industry.
A trade spat could jack up the cost of going solar, killing jobs and obstructing efforts to do something about climate change.
The first U.S. offshore wind farm, near Block Island, Rhode Island, started delivering commercial electricity in December 2016.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
When utilities plan investments, they think decades ahead. A recent study shows why power companies should be spending more on renewables despite the Trump administration's tilt toward fossil fuels.
Cholla power plant near Joseph City, Arizona, photographed on Jan. 16, 2010.
Coal-fired power plants produce air pollution that kills thousands of Americans every year. President Trump's embrace of coal energy will delay a shift to cleaner fuels that is saving money and lives.
When it comes to TV use energy, calling one household ‘average’ can be misleading.
Evert F. Baumgardner - National Archives and Records Administration.
People who watch a lot of TV consume a disproportionate amount of electricity so we should tailor energy efficiency incentive programs to these and other big energy users.