Designing the Electric Grid

August 10th, 2004

Posted by: admin

Matthew Wald writes in today’s Science Times that last August’s blackout “spread so quickly that day largely because hundreds of components acted exactly as they had been programmed to do.”

Meaning the nation’s largest blackout was an unintended consequence, and a sobering reminder of the difficulties decision-makers face as science and technology become more powerful and complex. In this case, relays designed to protect electrical equiptment in the event of damaging currents tripped domino-like shutting down transmission and generation facilities. Not exactly a graceful failure, but not a catestrophic one either.

Anyone interested in more should check out the Kennedy School’s Electricity Policy Group’s site detailing information and analysis on the event.

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