5-Year Anniversary of the 2003 Northeast Blackout
On August 14, 2003, a sagging power line coming into contact with untrimmed trees near Cleveland, Ohio triggered a massive blackout that left 50 million people without electricity in a 9,300 square mile area in the Northeast and Midwest United States and parts of Canada. Economic losses were estimated at as much as $10 billion. Five years later, is the North American electrical power grid less susceptible to disruption?
August 14, 2008
"Instead of ignoring what happened five years ago and hoping for the best, we must embrace the lessons of that experience and work towards a modernized energy infrastructure that is more resilient, secure, reliable and efficient," said Reform Institute Senior Advisor Kenneth Nahigian in a press statement.
Nahigian's white paper, "The Smart Alternative: Securing and Strengthening Our Nation’s Vulnerable Electric Grid," promotes investment in modernization of the existing grid to build a "smart grid," primarily for national security.
The paper echoes many of the arguments made in 2005 by Partick Mazza, Research Director for Climate Solutions, in his report entitled "Powering Up the Smart Grid." Rather than national security, Mazza saw the smart grid as a path to job creation and clean energy.
Some grid operators have been investing in their segments of the national grid. Major failures like the 2003 Northeast blackout aren't all behind us, but we are seeing fewer of them. Initiatives such as GridWise are working on technologies that would be used to modernize the electric grid.