By MATTHEW L. WALD May 1, 2012
WASHINGTON — Millions of people in Southern California, Arizona and northern Mexico were plunged into darkness last September because of errors and system problems paralleling those that caused the great Eastern blackout of August 2003, federal investigators reported on Tuesday.
No new technology is needed to prevent a repetition, only stricter adherence to operating rules, the investigators suggested in a 151-page report.
The failures were “pretty basic things,” said David R. Nevius, senior vice president of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which is designated by the federal government to assure grid reliability and investigated the blackout in tandem with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Still, the investigation revealed new vulnerabilities in the grid. For example, electric companies are supposed to routinely analyze anticipated conditions for the next day. But the Imperial Irrigation District, an electric utility in the Imperial Valley east of San Diego, issued analyses that showed weather, load and generation forecasts but failed to evaluate the underlying power flows, the report said.
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