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Climate Disasters Threaten U.S. Grids, Risking Billions in Losses

At least 17% of global power lines are vulnerable to climate hazards, according to new research by BloombergNEF

Utility crews work to repair power lines following a tornado in Earlington, Kentucky.

Utility crews work to repair power lines following a tornado in Earlington, Kentucky.

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

The U.S. utilities sector could suffer annual losses of up to $4.1 billion as climate hazards threaten to batter the industry’s infrastructure, according to a new report.

Roughly one in five global power lines are heavily exposed to rising sea levels, hurricanes, wildfires and storms, according to BloombergNEF data published Wednesday. In the U.S. alone, 700,000 kilometers (435,000 miles) of power grids are vulnerable to physical climate hazards — just shy of the distance to the moon and back.