What really happened during the 2003 blackout?

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,669
An engineer from ComEd in Chicago gave a talk to our power systems students about this blackout from the point of view of the operators in the ComEd control center who, thanks to best practices, did not get taken down. But they felt the bump up against their distribution system and knew there was going to be a problem before the NERC relatability centers had any idea.

This video, from the Practical Engineering channel on YouTube is a great introduction to this amazing outage event. The cascade took less than 30 seconds from when it started and we can only hope the lessons learned documents are robust, studied, and applied for the future stability of the grid.

As an aside, if you aren’t familiar with Grady’s channel, you are in for a treat. He makes informative and technically accurate videos about a variety of civil engineering topics. The production is excellent and this narration is cogent and lucid. Check out the channel.

 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
6,586
Living here in Cleveland area I remember it well. The video was, as you suggested, excellent. I remember telling my wife Kathy not to plug in that last fan. The mentioned Eastlake power generation plant stacks belching smoke, it's now dead. Everyday hundreds of coal cars rolled into the Eastlake plant. Just as power went out I noticed our water pressure dropped. I started filling pots and pans for the dogs and toilets. The water system had no generator backup, they do now. There were some lessons learned. WE did just fine as our generator supported us including the air conditioning. Damn I love that thing. :)

The US power grid is a nightmare it's weak and wide open to urban terrorism. Again excellent informative video.

Ron
 

k1ng 1337

Joined Sep 11, 2020
539
Here in Canada, I can only remember a handful of power outages in my life maybe 10. Mostly due to lightning and were fixed within hours each time. I imagine USA has a much more complex and poorly coupled mains but up here it's solid. On the other hand there was a petrol plant that exploded not far from here and they rebuilt on the same site.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,741
Seems we really didn't learn very much from 2003.

https://www.nbcdfw.com/investigatio...ackout-that-could-have-lasted-months/2562592/

ERCOT: Texas Was 4 Minutes and 37 Seconds Away From a Blackout That Could Have Lasted Months

Build more nuclear baseload generation. For once, France is right.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...o-14-new-nuclear-reactors-by-2050-says-macron
Emmanuel Macron has announced a “renaissance” for the French nuclear industry with a vast programme to build as many as 14 new reactors, arguing that it would help end the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and make France carbon neutral by 2050.

“What our country needs ... is the rebirth of France’s nuclear industry,” Macron said in a speech in the eastern industrial town of Belfort, in which he lauded the country’s technological prowess.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
6,586
Build more nuclear baseload generation. For once, France is right.
While I agree I believe one problem is cost. I worked side by side with the BWXT M-Power Program. Funny as First Energy who contributed to the blackout noted in this thread was the only potential customer. Quite a bit of work and money went into the M-Power project before it was shut down. The classic it seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately cost is what killed it for now. Everything was simply shelved for possibly another day. Then toss in The Fukushima nuclear disaster turning more people off to nuclear generated power. Same people who don't realize every current US Aircraft Carrier and Submarine is running under nuclear propulsion. Anyway, we had a very good design and concept working with the M-Power program but alas the plug was pulled. :(

Ron
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
11,913
Texas has a bit of a problem because of too much electrical heating instead of other kinds. But Texas is mostly decent weather so perhaps that is an adequate excuse.
California wants to be 100% electrical everything. What I see is that given the skill levels of some of their electric utility companies, that goal is as STUPID as humanly possible. Or maybe more than that. When disaster, or even just an equipment failure strikes, the poor folks will be without light, heat, water, and the ability to charge their electric cars. I hope that they know how to open cans so that they can at least eat.
 

Audioguru again

Joined Oct 21, 2019
4,693
Years ago, Quebec had a long electrical blackout caused by a storm and they had no backup lines.
I remember one year we had a blackout in my part of Canada that was caused by a problem in USA and the problem crossed the border.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
11,913
That was my neighborhood for many years. Although nowhere near an edge, a half mile by half mile square only had one feed connection. And one fault would take it all down. Then they changed the delay times on the breakers and fixed that, but it took 20 years to get it straight. It seems that they had not thought about it that way previously.
 
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