Power grid still vulnerable

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On August 14, 2003, a sagging power line coming into contact with untrimmed trees near Cleveland, Ohio triggered a massive blackout that left 50 million people without electricity in a 9,300 square mile area in the Northeast and Midwest United States and parts of Canada.

Economic losses were estimated at as much as $10 billion. Five years later, the North American electrical power grid is still highly susceptible to severe disruption.

“The vulnerability of our outdated electric transmission and distribution system is a major liability with serious implications for our national resilience, security and economy. If a tree branch can cause such a devastating failure, imagine what could happen in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster,” according to Kenneth Nahigian, Reform Institute Senior Advisor and author of the recent Institute white paper, The Smart Alternative: Securing and Strengthening Our Nation’s Vulnerable Electric Grid.

“Instead of ignoring what happened five years ago and hoping for the best, we must embrace the lessons of that experience and work towards a modernized energy infrastructure that is more resilient, secure, reliable and efficient.”

“As a key part of our critical infrastructure, revitalizing and strengthening our electrical grid must be a national priority,” added Cecilia Martinez, Reform Institute Executive Director. “Implementing the next-generation ‘Smart Grid’ will be essential to U.S. resilience and energy sustainability.”


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