A DoE backed study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that electric power outages and blackouts cost the US around $80 billion annually, a key fact missing from the discussions focussed on modernising the grid that followed the sweeping blackouts of 2003. The study aggregates data recorded by utilities, data provided by the US Energy Information Administration and data from surveys on the value electricity customers place on uninterrupted service.

Of the total estimated costs some $57 billion or 73% is from the commercial sector and $20 billion or 25% in the industrial sector. Residential losses are estimated at $1.5 billion, or only about 2% of the total.

The study also finds that relatively frequent momentary interruptions actually have a bigger impact on the total cost of interruptions than the less common sustained interruptions. Momentary interruptions were responsible for two-thirds of the total cost, at $52 billion, while sustained interruptions of five minutes or more accounted for $26 billion.