RealNews

Experts Asking Why Problems Spread So Far

The power collapse that stilled a large swath of North America Thursday apparently began with a failure in the Midwest that cascaded into Canada, and from there into New York, power industry officials said yesterday. They said they were trying to determine why it spread so far. An enormous, instantaneous reversal of the power flow — huge amounts of electricity that had been moving east over the Great Lakes and was suddenly sucked back — overloaded one or more power lines, which quickly took themselves out of service. In seconds, parallel lines were overloaded as well and shut themselves down, and then generating stations disconnected themselves. Ultimately, dozens of lines and about 100 power plants, with a staggering 61,800 megawatts of generation, had shut down — apparently before any human being could react. The series of major failures began about 4:08 p.m., and was over within roughly five minutes. The failures were triggered by a few seconds of tremendous instability in energy flows. Full Story

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