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Southwest Blackout of 2011

Without proper technology in place, a major power outage can occur before the grid recovers from a fault.

On September 8, 2011, a wide area blackout occurred in the southwest United States, including Arizona and California, as well as parts of Baja, Mexico. Almost 3 million customers were without power for several hours from late afternoon into the evening. Rush hour traffic was chaotic, trains and trollies were stopped, and flights out of San Diego Airport were grounded. As summer was still at its peak, millions of people were left without air conditioning during the hottest time of day.

This event was triggered by the inadvertent opening of a 500 KV air break switch in Arizona. While the initial fault was cleared in 67 milliseconds, inadequate blackout prevention barriers failed to ensure that rapid post fault recovery occurred.

A power outage such as this is possible still today; a single fault on a hot summer’s day could lead to a wide area blackout. Prescient’s power outage prevention risk assessment service can determine power system responses to triggering events such as those described above. Our innovative technology can prevent wide area blackouts from occurring. Contact us to learn more about how to increase the resiliency of your power system.

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