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Despite Largest Blackout in U.S. History Bush To Delay Upgrade of “Third World Grid”

HeadlineAug 18, 2003

Power has been restored to tens of million in the Northeast after the nation suffered its worst blackout in history on Thursday and Friday. New York City, Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto and Ottawa were among the cities to lose power Many energy experts now believe the blackout began in Ohio where a series of line failures and plant shutdowns spread rapidly across the region..

Much of the blame has been placed on the nation’s antiquated energy grid. Former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said the country is running on a “third world grid.”

A proposal to strengthen the nation’s power transmission center has been stalled by Senate Republicans for months. On Thursday President Bush said the blackout should serve as a “wake up call.” But the Washington Post reports that President Bush plans to side with opponents of the plan and delay an upgrade of the system by three years.

Among the groups investigating what happened is the North American Electric Reliability Council, which was formed after the 1965 blackout to monitor energy utilities.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Council had been warning Congress for four years that deregulation of the energy industry has made its job harder to monitor and enforce rules. But Congress has so far refused to give the energy Council enforcement powers.

Investigators examining the cause of Thursday’s blackout are centering specifically on the company FirstEnergy Cop. based in Akron Ohio though Representatives from First Energy say it is too early to determine if its plant caused the problem.

The energy firm has had a history of past problems since 1997 when it was formed from the merger of Ohio Edison, the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. and Toledo Edison. In 2001, it acquired General Public Utilities, which owned Pennsylvania Electric Co., Metropolitan Edison near Redding, Pa., and New Jersey Central Power and Light.

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