10 years after blackout, US grid faces new threats

The U.S. electrical grid is better managed and more flexible a decade after its largest blackout. But it remains vulnerable to new threats.

In 2003, grid operators didn’t initially realize what was happening. They now have a nearly real-time view and are better equipped. Utilities share more information and trim trees. Power demand has stagnated.

But aging coal and nuclear plants are shutting down in the face of maintenance costs, pollution restrictions and gas competition. Wind and solar add power that’s difficult to manage.

Temperatures and storms are getting more extreme. Some regulators and policymakers worry about cyberattacks.

Joe Welch is CEO of the largest independent transmission company in the U.S. He says “the grid that exists today wasn’t designed for what everybody wants to do with it.”

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