Editor's Note: The United States comprises about 5 per cent of the world population and about 25% of the world's energy consumption.
New storms were responsible for nearly 23,000 more power outages in the Washington DC area last weekend, as temperatures continued to reach record levels in many areas across the US.
Residents in the nationa€™s capitala€”forced to endure nearly two weeks of record-breaking high temperaturesa€”may now also be hit by a new storm system, coming just days after a high-powered system knocked out residentsa€™ power for nearly a week.
Temperatures stayed at above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) for the fourth day in a row last weekend in the metropolitan DC area, the highest temperatures sustained for such a period in the area since July 1930. The social crisis is undoubtedly accentuating the impact of this disaster, throwing the region into crisis. The Northern Virginia region has seen a large population influx in the last 10 years due to an economy somewhat less affected by the recession than in many other parts of the country. This population growth in the area has been accompanied by an increase in social inequality. In West Virginia, about 77,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity over the weekend. This was the third major thunderstorm to hit the state since June 29, when winds of up to 75 miles an hour caused widespread damage and power outages. As with many natural disasters, the hardest affected are those least able to care for themselves, including the elderly and the young.

This reporter recently visited several registered cooling centers in the region, as they had been advertised by the Washington Post.
Efforts to restore power have been exacerbated by recent attempts of private electricity companies to cut back on expenses. Utility Pepco, for its part, bragged about being able to restore power to most customers in the DC region by last Thursday, two days ahead of reported schedule. The government body overseeing the operations of public utilities in the DC area has rejected burying power lines underground, a move that would all but eliminate power outages during severe weather. As the WSWS reported recently: a€?The DC Public Services Commission (PSC), a district government body which oversees the operations of public utilities, rejected placing power lines underground in October 2010, following the release of a study by Shaw Consultants International into the cost of the operation. Several dozen people died in heat-related incidents last week, although reports vary on the exact number of victims. The new storm system claimed the life of a woman in New Jersey, who was reportedly struck by lightning. The heat was reportedly enough to bend the tracks of the citya€™s metro system, causing a train on the Green Line to derail. The inadequate electric infrastructure is also at the mercy of the private utility companies, which subordinate the delivery of power to their profit margins.
In Fairfax County, Virginia, Democratic Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova stated she expected increased operational costs for administering cooling centers in the region, among other factors.

Appalachian Power said those numbers were rising again due to severe thunderstorms that moved in on Sunday.
About 45,000 Appalachian Power customers and 32,000 MonPower customers remained without service as of Monday. In Marion County, Indiana, a 92-year old man was found dead in his home, which lacked ventilation.
At each location it was reported that these facilities had been without power at the time the Post ran its alert. Ten heat-related deaths were reported in the region after the record-breaking heat last week. This is in addition to an estimated 15,000 residents who have yet to regain power, after losing it following last montha€™s a€?derechoa€? storm. Fiscal Policy Institute in March showed a massive disparity in incomes between the top and bottom earners in Washington DC, as well as a lack of affordable housing. In Indianapolis, a three-month-old girl was found dead, while a 16-month-old was hospitalized after being left inside of a vehicle in 105-degree temperatures.

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