FOUR OTHERWISE INNOCUOUS events occurred Thursday afternoon on the northeast Ohio power grid owned by FirstEnergy Corp. They include unexplained voltage swings that the company said brought down a coal-fired generator, a pair of power line outages — one caused by a tree — and the failure of an automated warning system.
“In order to have a big problem, you have to have three or four bad things happen all at the same time,” said Hoff Stauffer, a power transmission consultant with Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
A team of U.S. and Canadian investigators will examine the computer logs detailing these failures when they take over several separate probes already under way across the region. Officials close to the investigation have said an interim report on last week’s blackout could be released by mid-September. But a final report may be months away.
“We’re going to move as fast as we can but we’re not going to jump the gun,” U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Wednesday on CBS’ “The Early Show.”
U.S.-CANADIAN TASK FORCE FORMED
At a news conference in Washington Tuesday, Abraham said he felt that there needed to be “one ultimate finding” by a single investigation and that an industry watchdog group — the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) — would forgo its independent probe and work with a U.S.-Canadian task force.