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Energy Experts Question Scale of Blackout

Energy experts are baffled at the scale of yesterday’s blackout which left five million people without power.

The blackout here was caused by a transmission failure in Arizona. But power-industry analyst Bill Powers says the grid is set up so that if there’s a sudden loss of supply, energy companies must immediately lower demand through a strategy of controlled blackouts. Powers said a San Diego Gas & Electric executive’s repeated assertion that the blackout was caused by human error in Arizona yesterday falls short.

“That doesn’t explain why SDG&E didn’t deploy its emergency procedure which is to selectively brownout and blackout portions of San Diego," Powers said. "It looks like something didn’t go right at SDG&E.”

SDG&E’S vice president of power supply James Avery said the company will investigate what happened.

“What we will look at is to see whether the planning criteria we have is adequate and if it isn’t adequate, what additional criteria do we need to put in place," Avery said. "Now there may be things we can do without changing the planning criteria. For example, we may be able to put protective schemes in place to ensure that this will not happen.”

Meanwhile, the outage caused two sewage pumping facilities to fail sending nearly two million gallons of sewage into lagoons.

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