NYT Video on 2003 Cascading Failure Actually Gets It Right

The New York Times has just posted a 9 minute video that provides an excellent overview of what was called the 2003 Blackout in North America.  The Times does a good job.  You will hear almost nothing about the US needing to build lots of new transmission lines.  You will see and hear:

  • The Times highlighting the federal report that put the responsibility for initiating the cascading failure directly on FirstEnergy for being focused on financial game playing instead of maintaining its rights of way and updating its computer systems.  West Virginia customers of Mon Power and Potomac Edison continue to suffer from FirstEnergy’s continued failures.  Note that FirstEnergy was never punished for its failures in 2003.
  • A PJM Interconnection official point directly at electricity storage systems as the key to building more reliability into the US electrical system.
  • Lots of solar panels on buildings as the voice over explains about potential solutions.

Five years ago, there would have been all kinds of talk about our desperate need for more HV transmission lines in a video about the 2003 cascading failure.  Now there is no call to build more transmission lines, only vague references to “upgrading the grid” directed mainly at controls and monitoring.  What a difference a few years makes.

I would have liked a little less catastrophe footage and more real world solutions, namely microgrids that have come through similar situations in recent years, but, on the whole, the Times did a good job with this piece.

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