New Tools Emerge for Preventing Power Outages

A decade after the largest blackout in American history, engineers are installing and linking 1,000 of those instruments, called phasor measurement units, to try to prevent another catastrophic power failure.
August 1, 2013
 

After the lights went out for 50 million people from the Northeast to the Midwest on Aug. 14, 2003, investigators found readings from two obscure instruments that would have given them an hour’s warning — plenty of time to solve the problem if the devices had been wired to provide a stream of critical data.

 
Now, a decade after the largest blackout in American history, engineers are installing and linking 1,000 of those instruments, called phasor measurement units, to try to prevent another catastrophic power failure. When the work is done, the engineers say, they will have a diagnostic tool that makes the old system seem like taking a patient’s pulse compared with running a continuous electrocardiogram.

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