Writing in Forbes, a leading international expert in weather and climate referenced a groundbreaking study published by the Electricity Growth and Use in Developing Economies (e-GUIDE) Initiative as led by Assistant Professor Jay Taneja of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department. “A new analysis by scientists reveals that minority populations were greater than four times as likely to suffer from an energy blackout than predominantly white areas,” wrote Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd.
Shepherd was the 2013 president of the American Meteorological Society and is director of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program.
Taneja completed the e-GUIDE analysis, combining census, satellite, and other demographic data, in collaboration with Zeal Shah, a Ph.D. student in Taneja’s STIMA Lab in the UMass ECE department, along with researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Colorado School of Mines. See Boston Herald, PR Newswire, and News Office release.
Shepherd explained in Forbes that “These preliminary findings are consistent with the climate risk and vulnerability literature that continues to emerge showing that minority and poor populations are disproportionately impacted by extreme weather events.”
While not mentioned in the Forbes essay, Taneja has previously observed that “Though the analysis does not tell us why differences in blackouts arise, the end result, that already vulnerable populations endure more widespread blackouts, is tragic and unacceptable.”
The e-GUIDE analysis was conducted after the events of February 2021, when a severe winter storm knocked many parts of the Texas power grid offline for several days, leaving more than 4.5-million people in the cold and dark.
Among several critical conclusions made by the analysis, “Predominantly white areas had an 11 percent chance of suffering an outage compared to a 47 percent chance in high minority share areas.” (June 2021)