Assessing power disruption distribution, social vulnerabilities, and energy security in Texas counties (2016-2020)




Wingo, Kelsey

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Severe weather events, aging infrastructure, and pressure to decarbonize have shed light on the reliability of the U.S. electricity supply. In this analysis, I considered the colocation and relationship between power supply disturbances and socially vulnerable populations from the years 2016-2020 in Texas counties. Through spatial analysis, two trends were observed: counties with large populations and counties near the southern border of Texas showed the greatest frequency of power disturbances and concentrations of socially vulnerable populations. Statistical analysis did not indicate significant relationships between counties with high social vulnerability scores and those with high frequency of power disturbances events. Statistical regression findings did indicate a relationship between counties with large populations and increased frequency of power disturbances, likely due to more populated counties having more expansive electricity infrastructure and demand and thus more pathways for errors. This analysis was limited by the availability of power outage data publicly available. This study demonstrates both a need to standardize and make accessible power outage incident data, continue observing and analyzing power disruption trends, and to engage with the technological, political, and regulatory options available to safeguard socially vulnerable populations against future power disruptions


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