Still thinking about what I learned about the current state of the USA power grid. More wind power being created in tin buck two and transported across several states to be used on a grid not designed for that. I found a site that shows new lines will be in place by 2030. A look back in time shows what can happen when things get out of balance. The largest blackout ever in 2003 August 14. This old news article may not make sense, but basically a link in the grid got overloaded after a power plant trip and that put more current from distant plants on their lines and lines sag a lot when they get overloaded. These two lines shorted to undergrowth and tripped the circuit breakers, This caused the Nuke plants to overload and shutdown. Then plants every where tripped as their load was exceeded. Quick thinking people at AEP saw what was going on and saved what they could.
I know I go off on odd subjects, but if this Summer gets real hot and Windmills produce a lot of power, Then this same type of event could occur and that would not be good. The USA has lost a lot of power production in the last seven years. Nuclear and Coal that were close to the end customer. Let us hope I am a chicken little.
Basic Failures by Ohio Utility Set Off Blackout, Report Finds
By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA and MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: November 20, 2003
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19— The largest blackout in North American history was set off by a series of human and computer failures at an Ohio power company, where workers could not act to halt an escalating crisis because they did not even know it existed, a panel of government and industry officials reported on Wednesday.
The report says that, even some 20 minutes before the lights went out from Detroit to New York City on Aug. 14, the blackout could have been safely contained if not for the utility's malfunctioning computers and inadequately trained control room workers.
The report found that the utility, FirstEnergy, and the regional agency that was supposed to be overseeing it, the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, also failed to contact neighboring power companies as the system unraveled, a violation of one of the essential rules governing the operation of the nation's power grid. And the government officials who released the report charged that the worsening series of transmission line failures that drove the wider collapse of power were the result in part of a failure by FirstEnergy to do the most basic maintenance of the company's transmission lines -- namely the trimming of trees underneath and alongside the lines.
At each turn on Aug. 14, the 124-page document says, human inaction made matters worse, until a system collapse struck with such force and speed that it surged from Ohio into Michigan, Ontario and New York in a matter of seconds.
''This blackout was largely preventable,'' said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who headed the inquiry, along with Herbert Dhaliwal, the Canadian minister of natural resources. ''A number of relatively small problems combined to create a very big one.''
The blackout spread through eight states and vast parts of Ontario, disrupting the lives of millions of people and inflicting billions of dollars in economic losses.
Mr. Abraham and Mr. Dhaliwal, in releasing the most definitive official account of the calamity to date, repeatedly emphasized the need for an enforceable set of operating standards for the electrical grid, with violations punishable by monetary penalties, for power companies and the entities that supervise them, independent system operators.
''If the voluntary reliability standards had been complied with, we wouldn't have had a problem,'' Mr. Dhaliwal said. Describing the grid as a chain of connected systems, he said, ''We have to make sure we don't have weak links in the chain that affect others.''
The energy bill passed by the House on Monday would allow for an enforceable set of rules, to be drafted by an industry group, the North American Electric Reliability Council. (Mr. Abraham and Mr. Dhaliwal said they favored enforceable standards but their report today had no recommendations. Those will come later this year at the earliest, they said.) It would also give the council the power to audit the practices of power companies and system operators, which Michehl R. Gent, the group's president, said was more important than penalties. ''I'm into performance, not fines,'' he said.
Mr. Gent said the blackout also showed that his group's rules needed to be more explicit about requiring that power companies and I.S.O.'s have sophisticated, comprehensive computer systems for monitoring their power lines and detecting problems. The Midwest I.S.O., a relatively new agency, has less effective systems than its counterparts in the Northeast.
Mr. Abraham repeatedly declined to answer questions about what penalty, if any, FirstEnergy might or should face, adding that it might be up to state regulators. But with the report putting the blame so squarely on FirstEnergy, others jumped in. Saying that ''FirstEnergy needs to be held accountable,'' Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York said the company should pay reparations to power companies, so that they can, in turn, reimburse customers for their losses.
FirstEnergy insisted that much of the report was factually wrong or questionable, and said the panel had chosen to ignore underlying problems that many experts have pointed to, including the rise of long-distance transmission of electricity and instability in the system brought on by deregulation.
''If we don't deal with the systematic issues that are affecting the power grid, we're not going to make any headway here,'' Anthony J. Alexander, president of FirstEnergy, said in a telephone interview. ''The system was not designed to do what it's being asked to do on a daily basis.''
The Midwest I.S.O. -- one of a number of control agencies across the country charged with monitoring conditions on the grid and assisting with any crises -- released a statement saying that it was reviewing the report and was already changing some of its practices. It did not dispute any of the findings.
Much of the broad picture the report paints of Aug. 14 -- the malfunctioning computer systems, the lack of information, the sequence of failures -- has been known for months. But the details released today lay out previously unknown layers of dysfunction, presenting the hours leading up to the blackout as almost a comedy of errors among the people who were supposed to know and control what was happening to that section of the power grid.
FirstEnergy was hobbled by the failure of a computer program that was supposed to set off alarms in the company's main control room when power lines failed or were stressed beyond their limits. That, in turn, caused the computer system itself to fail, and then a backup system, as well. It meant that operators in the control room were getting delayed, incomplete information about the failures of transmission lines and power plants in their region.
The report says FirstEnergy's control room staff was left unaware in part because, for over an hour, the company's computer maintenance people failed to tell them. ''That's not accurate,'' said Charles E. Jones, a senior vice president of FirstEnergy. In fact, he said, it was the control room that told the computer staff the systems were malfunctioning.
When the Midwest I.S.O. had trouble with its ''state estimator,'' a computer tool for determining whether the grid was in trouble, a technician turned it off, tried to repair it, then forgot to turn it back on and went to lunch, the report says.
For most of the afternoon, the system operators' vital tool for monitoring trouble on the grid was useless, using flawed information to produce what amounted to only nonsense. The report says that was because a major power line owned by another utility, in another part of Ohio, had already failed, but that no one at the Midwest I.S.O. knew the line was down, and so no one adjusted the computer system accordingly.
The report also says that three major FirstEnergy transmission lines shut down because they sagged into trees -- not the one line officials had previously reported -- and that those failures helped vault the Ohio problems into a meltdown. Mr. Abraham said those failures were born of insufficient attention ''to simple tree-trimming.''
FirstEnergy officials insisted that they abided by all tree-trimming rules and that the lines sagged because of aberrant conditions on the grid. They also said it was not clear that three lines had hit trees. It might have been only one or two, they said.
The report cites six specific violations of industry rules, four by FirstEnergy and two by the Midwest I.S.O. In most cases, the violations consisted of failures to react to problems the two agencies were largely unaware of. In essence, they were cited for their ignorance.
Regulators say that in a tightly knit electric grid, such ignorance is unacceptable, threatening the stability of the entire system.
In addition, FirstEnergy was cited for inadequate training of its control room staff, and the Midwest I.S.O. for lacking the tools to monitor the utilities under its supervision.
FirstEnergy and the Midwest I.S.O. were cited for never alerting others to their problems.
A number of electric power consultants and engineering professors have argued, like FirstEnergy, that changes in energy markets, driven by deregulation, contributed to the blackout. Much more power is shipped from one region to another each day than was the case a few years ago, which has increased loads on transmission lines, especially in the Midwest, and has made transmission patterns more unpredictable. Critics of the current system say it has also created frequent imbalances in an elusive component of electricity, reactive power.
But the report took great pains to emphasize that conditions on the grid were within the bounds considered normal until after 3 p.m. on Aug. 14, despite a scattering of equipment failures across Ohio. Senior government officials also emphasized that point in a briefing with reporters on Wednesday, the effect being to pin the blame more squarely on FirstEnergy.
The report acknowledges that there had been a number of voltage fluctuations and problems in maintaining enough reactive power before transmission lines began to fail -- especially after a FirstEnergy power plant near Cleveland shut down at 1:31 p.m. But it contends that those problems, while potentially serious, were also fairly routine and should have been manageable.
The report does not address questions about the adequacy of the transmission system, or any role it might have played on Aug. 14, though federal officials have said it should be upgraded.
The report, characterized as a set of interim findings, disposed of two areas of inquiry. It states that there was no sign that sabotage, by a computer virus or other means, contributed to the blackout.
It also exonerates nuclear power plants of any role in the collapse, and says they all shut down safely. Some had speculated that nuclear plants could have accelerated the cascading failure by shutting down too quickly at the least sign of trouble.
Officials said they would hold hearings on their report in Toronto, New York and Cleveland.
Photo: Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, left, and Herbert Dhaliwal, Canada's natural resources minister, discussed a report on power yesterday. (Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times)(pg. A28) Chart: ''Leading Up to the Blackout'' Computer problems and an inability to track the condition of the power grid stopped operators at FirstEnergy and the Midwest I.S.O., the organization that regulates power flow in the region, from intervening to prevent the blackout, according to a report released yesterday. 12:15 P.M. -- The ''state estimator,'' a program used by the Midwest I.S.O. to determine if the grid is in trouble, stops producing accurate results. 1:07 P.M. -- A technician attempts to fix the state estimator, but forgets to turn it back on after his repairs and goes to lunch. It continues to malfunction for the rest of the afternoon. 2:14 P.M. -- FirstEnergy's alarm system, which notifies control room operators of line failures, freezes up and stops issuing warnings. 2:41 P.M. -- The computer running the alarm system fails, and a backup takes over. 2:54 P.M. to 3:08 P.M. -- The backup computer fails. While technicians are fixing it, control room operators' terminals slow down, causing operations that normally take seconds to take up to a minute. 3:05 P.M. -- FirstEnergy's Harding-Chamberlin line fails. Since the alarm system is not working, operators do not know of the failure, and do not perform an analysis to determine if further failures would cause problems. The Midwest I.S.O. is also unaware of the failure, and does not account for it in a program used to monitor power flow. As a result, the program does not predict subsequent overloads. 3:08 P.M. -- FirstEnergy technicians finish restarting the failed computer, but do not check with the control room to make sure the alarm system works. It is still frozen. 3:32 P.M. -- FirstEnergy's Hanna-Juniper line fails. The alarm system does not notify the operators. 3:45 P.M. -- After receiving phone calls from other power companies, FirstEnergy operators first begin to become aware of the severity of the situation. Additional lines begin to fail. 3:46 P.M. to 3:59 P.M. -- As technicians again try to fix the computers running the alarm system, the operators' terminals slow down. 4:10 P.M. -- The line failures cascade into a blackout across the Northeast and parts of Canada.