By Paul Davidson
Five years after the worst blackout in U.S. history, the nation's
electrical system is far better equipped to prevent another big outage,
but significant shortcomings remain, federal officials, grid operators
and consultants agree.
Since the blackout on Aug. 14, 2003, which affected 50 million people in
the Northeast, Midwest and part of Canada, federal regulators have
approved standards for upkeep of the power grid. And utilities have new
systems to monitor the network.
"I can definitively say the events that led to the 2003 blackout are
much less likely to occur," says Rick Sergel, head of the North American
Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), which enforces the new rules.
But there are still concerns:
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