The long awaited report on the September 8, 2011 blackout was finally released by Federal regulators. And the culprit was.........well it wasn't Homer Simpson and it wasn't that poor electrician in Arizona who accidentally short-circuited a transmission feeder. According to the Federal regulatory investigators, the culprit was......everyone! Everyone connected with the operation of the Southern California transmission grid, to be more specific. In a report that could have served as the script for The Simpsons, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) described a scenario of bad planning, bad communications and bad judgment that contributed to the massive blackout of 2011. For example, the regulators found that "several transmission operators did not know that over 600 MW of generation in a key location was out for maintenance.." And they discovered that the transmission operators were effectively flying blind, unaware that a 500kV line had tripped and that the Coachella Valley transformers had shut down. In a scathing report, the regulators attributed blame to all of the utilities involved and ordered a number of important changes to operations.
This report is hugely important to San Diego because this summer, we will be walking an electric tightrope with no margin for error. San Onofre Nuclear station's unavailability creates a serious shortage of power this summer for SDG&E. A serious heat wave combined with any transmission operator error will likely result in rolling blackouts.....or worse. So it will be essential that the FERC's numerous recommendations be in place before July when the weather heats up in Southern California.
For more about this report, click here for the entire report.