Black Out 2003

Black Out - A couple days of darkness for millions of people. We NYC dwellers think of it as centering here, but that's just us.

Maybe it started in Ohio.

  • Ohio's First Energy's execs are big George W Bush campaign contributors. First Energy President Anthony Alexander was a Bush Pioneer in 2000 - meaning he raised at least $100,000 - and then served on the Energy Department transition team. H Peter Burg, the company's CEO and chairman of the board, hosted a June event that raised more than half a million dollars for Bush-Cheney '04.

Should electricity transmission be a Stupid Network? Do we treat it as a Complex System?

Vaclav Smil's analysis - Instead of making the grid more resilient by being more interconnected with more reliable, higher capacity lines, the U.S. has been marching backwards: the distance to which a given plant can expect to sell electricity during the conditions of peak demand, has been falling since 1984 (and will continue to fall during this decade) and the average trade area of a given generator is now only about 70 percent of the mean in the mid-1980s... One would also think that even kindergarten-type instructions for system engineers would include the great admonition to build a Whole System where transmission capacities match (with a prudent reserve) the generation capabilities and to manage everything in a tightly integrated manner. (anti-Stupid Network)

Arnold Kling's assembly of links.

Lynne Kiesling says A fourth option is usually not discussed, because of the tendency to think of the grid as a supply issue. We can, and should, use market-based retail pricing to communicate customer demand into the grid. Under the decades-old regulatory rules controlling the retail sale of power, customer rates are set as averages over the entire year. Averaged rates do not take into account the fact that the cost of supplying power to customers can vary hourly. Averaged rates also give customers no incentive to conserve when the cost of providing them with power is high, such as during the late afternoon on a warm summer day like last Thursday. Grid operators saw power flow anomalies as early as three hours before the blackout that spread in nine seconds, and in those three hours, if we had market-based retail pricing, even the shifting of a few large customers could have lowered the peak demand and prevented the power surge.

Aug'2004 Justin Blum followup - transmission capacity still a problem


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