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California is once again the US state suffering the most power outages, according to an annual report on blackouts - which also reveals that in 2014, half a Hawaiian island was cut off by a chicken. 

It is California’s sixth year at the top of the Blackout Tracker Annual Report, published by power management firm Eaton, and this year it is followed by Texas and Michigan. A total of 14.2 million people were affected, and each outage On average, 3,996 people were affected for over 40 minutes per outage, and power failures created difficulties for people and businesses in all 50 states.

 Eaton based the report on 3,634 reported outages, representing an increase of more than 12 percent from the 3,236 outages reported in 2013. The reported number of people affected by outages increased from 14 million in 2013 to 14.2 million in 2014. This is not based on entirely complete information, but Eaton calculates power outages cost the US economy $150 billion in damages The report also features lists the most significant reported outages, the most unusual causes, and picks out six important data center outages: 

  • In Des Moines, Iowa, in February, an outage at the Hoover Building data center halted the state’s data servers, which in turn shut down email, websites and Internet services in the governor’s office and all the state departments located around the Capitol. The blackout was attributed to the failure of an electrical suppression unit.
  • In New York in May, live webcasting service Livestream endured a three-hour outage that took down its network after Internap, which stores Livestream’s servers in a Google data hub, experienced a data center-wide power failure.
  • A failed switch knocked out the majority of IT services at the University of Wisconsin, in June, also taking out Internet services to educational customers throughout the state.
  • At the University of Rochester, New York, planned maintenance in July cut Internet and email servicesthroughout campus.
  • Members of Yale University were unable to access websites and email for more than nine hours in October after a power outage struck its primary data center. The technical difficulty came at an inconvenient time,as students preparing for midterms couldn’t complete online assignments or use campus printers.Officials said the data center may have crashed due to a circuit breaker or computer failure.
  • Maryland State Police lost access to crime databases after a fire in the generator room of the state police data center in Baltimore. The center was running on generator power during routine maintenance work when the fire activated sprinklers, which initiated a shutdown


The most unusual causes of power outages in 2014:

  • Atlanta, Georgia: On December 13, a parking attendant accidentally gave the keys to an Audi A7 to the wrong person. Instead of pointing out the mistake the person took the car and crashed into a power pole, leaving 4,800 residents without power.
  • Lihue, Hawaii: On September 28, a chicken knocked out power to nearly half the island of Kaua’i when it got into co-op equipment at the Kapaa switchyard, tripping the circuit breakers.
  • St. Petersburg, Florida: On February 24, a fire truck was blamed for an outage that left 400 residents in the dark. The truck’s ladder accidentally hooked some power lines and pulled them down, which sparked an outage.
 Year Total number of outages  People affected
 2008*  2,169   c25.8 million
 2009  2,840  13.5 million
 2010 3,149   17.5 million
2011   3,071  41.8 million
2012   2,808  25.0 million
2013   3,236  14.0 million
2014   3,634  14.2 million
*partial year  data     

According to federal databases at the Department of Energy and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the US suffers more blackouts than any other developed nation. There is a heightened industry awareness of the costly effects of power outages, which was highlighted in a recent Eaton survey where 59 percent of information technology (IT) professionals responded that ensuring uptime was their most significant challenge. Additionally, the survey found 37 percent of respondents reported suffering unplanned downtime in the past two years. Although power failures are common due to weather and unforeseen events, uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), generators and power management software solutions are designed to deliver reliable power during outages. 


To download the entire annual report and track power outages across the US and other countries, please visit