Grid Locked

<p>Promised federal investments to upgrade America's electricity grid in the wake of the 2003 blackout have never materialized. As a result, the U.S. power grid "hangs by a thread."</p>
October 19, 2006, 8am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"On Monday, the North American Electric Reliability Council, an organization funded by the power industry, and that was named by federal regulators in July as the new watchdog group in charge of overseeing the rules for operating the nation's power grid, issued a grim report that confirmed an investigative story first reported by Truthout in August: three years after a devastating blackout left 50 million people in the dark in the Northeastern United States and parts of Canada for nearly three days, and forced the closure of the New York Stock Exchange, nothing substantial has been done to overhaul the country's dilapidated power grid.

Today, the US power grid - three interconnected grids made up of 3,500 utilities serving 283 million people - still hangs together by a thread. The slightest glitch on the transmission superhighway could upset the smooth distribution of electricity over thousands of miles of transmission lines and darken states from Ohio to New York in a matter of seconds, bringing hospitals and airports to a standstill and putting an untold number of lives at risk.

Immediately following the blackout on August 14, 2003, President Bush said publicly that he would see to it that the nation's aging power grid was quicklyupdated in order to avoid future blackouts and to handle the increase in demand. Congress called for spending of up to $100 billion to reduce severe transmission bottlenecks and increase capacity so the transmission lines could carry additional electricity from power plants to homes and businesses. But the money that would have funded a reliable power grid was spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

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Published on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 in Truthout
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