IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2017 - 96

or massive new transmission would
have to be constructed.
in the early days of deregulation,
some economists were highly critical of what they perceived as an underutilized transmission system. the
thought was "that interface could carry
10,000 mW if you loaded all the lines
to their thermal ratings; but because of
your reliability criteria, a power flow
of only 3,000 mW is permitted. You're
wasting a valuable resource." that's a
tempting argument, especially to some
policy makers. On the other hand, every
time a major blackout occurs, the people and press castigate political leaders as well as power system officials.
Customers want, and even demand, a
very high level of reliability.
At the time of the 1965 northeast
blackout, wholesale electric markets
did not exist. essentially all generating
resources were owned by the franchised
utilities in each geographical area. the
sense was that markets work efficiently

for most commodities but not in the
realm of power supply. As former fPC
Chair Joseph Swidler said, "electricity
isn't a commodity; it's a phenomenon."
market response takes years for power system components, compared to
weeks or months in most other fields.
it can still take decades to plan, acquire regulatory approval, and construct a high-voltage transmission line
or power generator. the present level of
reliability, as long as existing standards
are rigorously enforced, has proven
to represent a good balance, not just
in north America but throughout the
developed world.
Large power failures have a devastating effect on the economy. they also
have a huge psychological effect-it's
as if everything the modern human
being relies on has suddenly and unexpectedly disappeared. Any reduction in
reliability would harm the customers;
people are injured and sometimes die
during blackouts. finally, no other area

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of human activity relies on the laws of
physics as intimately as power supply.
When the laws of physics collide with
the laws of economics (or the laws of
society), physics wins, always.
So why is the 1965 blackout sometimes called "the good blackout?" it's
quite simple, actually. there was a
sharp reduction in crime in new York
City on the night of 9 november 1965;
actual statistics show that crime rates
were significantly lower than would be
expected for that time of year. there
were uncounted instances of people
helping people, even among complete
strangers. good will abounded, in fact,
perhaps something a bit more than good
will. According to one story, new York
hospitals experienced a spike in births
nine months after the blackout; that, fortunately or unfortunately, turned out to
be an urban myth.

Further Reading
(1967, July). Prevention of power failures:
A report to the President by the federal
Power Commission. [Online]. Available:
http://blackout.gmu.edu/archive/pdf/
fpc_67_v1.pdf; http://blackout.gmu.edu/
archive/pdf/fpc_67_v2.pdf; http://blackout
.gmu.edu/archive/pdf/fpc_67_v3.pdf
nerC. examples of major bulk
electric system power outages (1965-
1998). [Online]. Available: http://www
.nerc.com/docs/docs/blackout/black
outtable.pdf
n erC Steer ing group. (20 04,
July 13). technical analysis of the
August 14, 2003. blackout: What happened, Why, and What Did We Learn?
report to the nerC board of trustees. [Online]. Available: http://www
.nerc.com/docs/docs/blackout/nerC_
final_blackout_report_07_13_04.pdf
J. Casazza and f. Delea, Understanding Electric Power Systems: An
Overview of the Technology and the
Marketplace. new York: Wiley-ieee
Press, Apr. 2004.
J. Casazza and g Loehr, The Evolution of Electric Power Transmission
Under Deregulation: Selected Readings. Piscataway, nJ: ieee, 1999.
p&e


http://blackout.gmu.edu/ http://blackout.gmu.edu/ http://blackout http://www.gmu.edu/archive/pdf/fpc_67_v3.pdf http://www http://www.nerc.com/docs/docs/blackout/black http://www http://www.nerc.com/docs/docs/blackout/nerC_ http://standards.ieee.org/nesc

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