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Blackouts? never Again! (But...)

We ask merchant grid developers if anything can ever be done.
Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 2003

distant than was the case 20 or 40 years ago.

Loehr did a study on the impedance between New York city and Albany as it existed 20 years ago and then figured out the impedance between New York and Chicago now. He found that Chicago was closer impedance-wise to New York currently than Albany had been 20 years earlier. "That was kind of astounding," he says. "So today Detroit is closer to New York than probably Albany was in 1965," he figures. "That is a partial explanation for why the extent of this blackout was larger," he says. "If we build more AC, we will make the Eastern Interconnection smaller still in terms of electrical effects."

Loehr points out that in 1965, power went out in Boston, New York, and Toronto. Only Boston was not affected in the 2003 blackout. "But I found out the bulk power system in upstate New York never went down on Aug. 14, and there was at least one tie the whole time between New York and New England," he says. "New York ties to Ontario never went out either, but Ontario was not connected to anything else. They were separated from Michigan, and New York had separated from PJM." He adds, "The reason Boston did not go down is that the automatic under-frequency load shedding in upstate New York-I don't know yet if there was any significant load shedding in New England-dropped enough load once the three or four islands caused by the instability had been formed to balance load and generation." So there were people in upstate New York who never lost their lights.

Loehr believes the next major blackout very well could include many more cities. "Sooner or later we are going to have another event like this, and if you make the AC system electrically tighter, it will be more likely to include more cities than this one did. One way to prevent that is to break up the interconnections and tie them together with DC." -L.A.B.

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