Oversight Groups Warned Utilities on Power Flows

Report pinpointed section of Ohio grid as potential trouble spot

Published: 21-Aug-2003

Three months before the biggest blackout in North American history, the agency charged with protecting the nation's electrical grid put industry officials on notice that the section of the grid covering Ohio and other parts of the Midwest was particularly vulnerable to the kind of "cascading events" that unfolded last Thursday.

Officials with the group, the North American Electric Reliability Council, in a report that singled out the Midwest as the only part of the country at risk of such a devastating event, said the region could face "large, unanticipated power flows" this summer and would have to be prepared to handle the challenges with care.

Officials at the reliability council, an industry group, lacked the authority to order the utilities to take additional steps to prevent a small local failure from snowballing into a catastrophic one. And they concede that they did not even informally suggest anything more be done to protect that section of the nation's fragile grid. But the report makes it clear that the industry had been notified of the threat in the region and the fine margin for error that existed.

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