Sustainability 101

Anniversary of a Blackout: Incremental Improvements

Ten years ago this month, a massive electrical blackout struck the northeastern U.S., affecting some 55 million people. The cause? An outdated and inefficient grid, unmaintained sections of grid (specifically in Ohio), and peak energy use on a sweltering summer day. In an interview with NPR, energy industry reporter Bill Sweet says there was a “chronic underinvestment in the grid.” The good news is that there have since been improvements, and investment, in the grid.

The Orange and Rockland Smart Grid Deployment Project is a joint effort of the federal ARRA (stimulus) grants and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). This project involves the creation of an expandable prototype of a modernized distribution system that will, among other things:

  • Reduce the frequency and duration of outages
  • Provide operational savings
  • Decrease electricity costs to customers
  • Reduce electricity consumption through voltage management and conservation

This modernized distribution system is being piloted in parts of New York and New Jersey. To learn more, see the following SmartGrid.gov website.

Sources: NPR.org, NYSERDA

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