FERC and NERC release report on September 2011 blackout

Staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) have released a report analyzing the September 2011 blackout that left 2.7 million customers in southern California, Arizona and Baja, Calif. in the dark. The report surmises that the blackout stemmed from operating in an unsecured state due to inadequate planning and a lack of observability and awareness of system operating conditions on the day of the event.

The staff report, issued after a nearly eight-month inquiry, recommends that transmission operators and balancing authorities improve how they plan for operations to account for the status of facilities outside their individual systems, the effect of external operations on their own  systems and how operation of transmission facilities under 100 kV can affect the reliability of the bulk  power system.

FERC and NERC staff used on-site interviews, sophisticated computer modeling, event simulations and system analysis to make the determination that entities responsible for planning, operating and monitoring the bulk power system were not prepared to ensure reliable operation or prevent cascading outages in the event of a single contingency: the loss of Arizona Public Service’s (APS) Hassayampa-North Gila 500 kV transmission line.

That line loss itself did not cause the blackout, the report found, but it did initiate a sequence of events that led to the blackout, exposing grid operators’ lack of adequate real-time situational awareness of conditions throughout the Western Interconnection. More effective review and use of information would have helped operators avoid the cascading blackout.

Click here to read the entire report. (PDF)

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