August 13, 2008

WELL, GOOD:

Five years after the worst blackout in U.S. history, the nation’s electrical system is far better equipped to prevent another big outage, but significant shortcomings remain, federal officials, grid operators and consultants agree.

Since the blackout on Aug. 14, 2003, which affected 50 million people in the Northeast, Midwest and part of Canada, federal regulators have approved standards for upkeep of the power grid. And utilities have new systems to monitor the network.

“I can definitively say the events that led to the 2003 blackout are much less likely to occur,” says Rick Sergel, head of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), which enforces the new rules.

But there are still concerns.

And, of course, we’re not adding new generating capacity quickly enough to keep up with demand. Should I buy a generator?

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