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2009 Outage News
The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) compiles reports
on outages. Click to go to their web site for a list of outages sorted by year.
The following is a list of news summaries of major power outages and related
stories as reported in the media for this time period. The most recent are listed
- Russian dam disaster results in power cuts
CHERYOMUSHKI, Russia — A transformer explosion
followed by flooding of the main turbine hall at Russia's largest dam results in
major power shortage in Sibera. The accident occurred on August 17 during
maintenance activities and killed at least 75 workers. The
Sayano-Shushenskaya plant represents 25 percent of RusHydro's total capacity of
25.3 gigawatts. Three of the station's 10 power generating units had been
destroyed and repairs would take at least three years. The power station
is only 30 miles from two huge aluminum smelters owned by United Company RUSAL,
the world's largest aluminium producer. They quickly switched to other
regional electricity sources. But there are now concerns about power
shortages during the coming Siberian winter.
various sources, August 2009.
- Light bulb blamed for power outage
HANNIBAL, MO — A small indicator light is being
blamed for for knocking out power to more than half the Hannibal power system.
How could something so small cause so much havoc? A pilot light, typically of
only a few Watts, which shows the position of a breaker, started the chain of
events when it shorted out. The power to the light shorted to ground, which
caused a power failure in the breaker control circuit. That resulted in the main
substation transformer tripping off. Then other substations were lost when they
tried to pickup the load. This was the second major outage in less than a week.
The previous outage was caused by the failure of a lightning arrester on a major
Hannibal.net, June 22, 2009.
- What if Russia or China Cut Off Your Electricity?
It is a morning five or 10
years in the future and the headlines have been full of news about escalating
tensions with Russia or China. You get up only to find your lights and
virtually everything else has been shut down by cyberspies.
Improbable? Maybe -- but the Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese and
Russian spies have penetrated America's electric power grid. So what would
this mean to you and what would your day be like?
* starts late because your alarm clock did not work
* can't check the news using your desk top PC because it
requires wall power and the UPS already shutdown
* laptop works because it has a battery, but your internet
router is down due to lack of power
* your cell phone or land line works for a while, as long as
the backup generators continue to have fuel
* but many calls cannot be connected because they are routed
through the internet
* you can take a shower if you have municipal water, but the
water gets cold fast since your water heater is electric
* your neighbor has no water because he has a well with no
* you might think you can have a hot breakfast using your gas
stove, but no such luck -- it has an electric starter
* outside the traffic is a mess because most traffic lights
have no backup power
* at least your car works -- but not for long because most
gas stations do not have electricity to power the gas pumps
* the grocery store is dark and the food is going bad without
* the store cash registers are not operating because the UPS
they are connected to lasts only for 10 minutes
* can't pay with credit card because terminals are down, cash
* Wall Street has backup power, which allows the market to
ABC News, April 8, 2009.
- Electricity Grid in U.S. Penetrated by Spies
WASHINGTON — Cyberspies have penetrated
the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to
disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security
officials. The spies came from China, Russia and other countries and were
believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its
controls. Officials warn they could try to damage the power grid or other
key infrastructure during a crisis or war. A former Department of Homeland
Security official said, "There are intrusions, and they are growing...
There were a lot last year."
The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2009.
- Smart Grid may be vulnerable to hackers
WASHINGTON — The new "Smart
Grid" digitally based electricity system will use automated meters,
two-way communications and advanced sensors to improve electricity
efficiency and reliability. But tests have shown that a hacker can
break into the system, and cybersecurity experts said a massive blackout
The nation's utilities have embraced the concept and
are installing millions of automated meters on homes across the
country. President Obama has championed Smart Grid, and the recent
stimulus bill allocated $4.5 billion for the high-tech program.
However, IOActive determined that an attacker with $500 of equipment
could "take command and control ... allowing for the en masse
manipulation of service to homes and businesses." Once in the
system, the hacker could turn off and on millions of meters
simultaneously, disrupting the system. The resulting localized
outages could cascade to cause large regional blackouts.
As of now there are no clear-cut Smart Grid
cybersecurity standards. An official with the Department of
Homeland Security says, "There are a lot of discussions about where
the requirements will come from and who will be ultimately
cnn, March 2009.
- Power outages affect millions in U.S.
LITTLE ROCK, AR
— Significant ice storm-related power outages were reported in Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia,
Arkansas and Kentucky. Cleanup efforts continue after the two-day ice storm left more than
1,300,000 people in the dark. Arkansas and Kentucky were hardest hit by Mother Nature's wrath. President Barack Obama has signed federal disaster declarations for both states.
Crews in the nine affected states have been working around the clock to clean up power lines that were downed by ice and storms.
Those efforts have been hindered by fallen trees that first have to be cleared. In many cases, utility companies from states that weren't affected have been called in to help.
msnbc, Jan. 29, 2009.