Utility could have contained blackout, report says: "
By H. Josef Hebert
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - The nation's worst blackout began with three power line failures in Ohio and should have been contained by operators at FirstEnergy Corp., a three-month government investigation concluded today.
The report by a U.S.-Canadian task force said the FirstEnergy operators did not respond properly, allowing the Aug. 14 outage to cascade, eventually cutting off electricity to 50 million people in eight states and Canada.
The task force also cited outdated procedures and shortcomings at a regional grid monitoring center in Indiana that kept officials there from grasping the emerging danger and helping FirstEnergy deal with it.
'This blackout was largely preventable,' Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said.
The task force said it found 'no computer viruses or any sort of illicit cyber activities' to blame. It also concluded that there was no deliberate damage or tampering with equipment associated with the outage.
Among the faults found at FirstEnergy, however, was a simple failure to keep trees around power lines trimmed."