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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Thursday, 22 November 2007 00:57

A Word to the Why

Written by  Dr. Thomas D. Phelan

The Blackout of 2003 created major and costly inconveniences for an estimated 50 million people from Michigan, across Ohio and into New York and north into Ontario. Referred to by some media writers as the “Lake Erie Loop,” the interconnected power grid fell subject to a combination of problems and failures that with few exceptions interrupted the supply of electric power on Aug. 14, 2003, starting at about 4:10 p.m. In the ensuing hours, reporters wrote about the system of generating plants, high-voltage lines, substations, and distribution lines connecting generating plants with “Main Street.” What most writers missed until much later was the system of computer controls used to monitor and adjust the delicate balance of generating capacity and demand (load) that must be maintained to keep the system up and running. What happened in most places was the automatic triggering of the safety controls on the system (grid) caused it