Ten years after the fact, Kim Warren can still tell you when Ontario lights go out. It was 4:11 p. m.
Thursday, 8 August
In April 2003, Warren was the manager of Ontario Power Grid Master Control Center.
He was in the corridor outside the control room, chatting with a colleague. -
Workers, when the lights flicker.
"It looks strange," he said in an interview.
He hid in the control room and came to a place he would never forget.
Warren, now chief operating officer of an independent power system operator, said: "Looking back at the blackouts of 2003, people"don't believe it. "
"I see a lot of things go wrong.
But when I first entered the control room, all the signs of failure were abnormal. ” How far off?
Indicators show that Ontario has less than 8,000 MW of electricity.
In hot summer, one third of the supply is needed.
"Usually any power over 500 MW indicates a problem," Warren said.
"I don't think I've ever seen a child in his 1200s.
"This is the collapse of the whole power system.
Our wallboard is shining like a Christmas tree.
There are six controllers in the center. Warren asks the senior controllers, "Is this true?
"Give me a minute," he said calmly, just as someone called to report that the Bruce B nuclear power plant was disconnected from the grid.
The old man looked at me and said, "Yes.
That's what he said.
"I said to him: Let's carry out the restoration plan.
I'll help you.
"I turned to remind myself not to run.
Walking is important because we have to keep calm.
We are the helmsman of these things.
I remember walking to the door.
The people I've been talking to are still there.
"I said: Give me all the control room operators here and take them to the control room.
I said: Don't let anyone leave the building.
Because we don't know who we need next and how long it will last. ” (
As a result, Warren slipped home for an hour at 2 a. m. m.
That night - Friday morning - took a bath and changed clothes.
He did not return home until late Saturday, ending his shift that began Thursday morning. )
Around lakes in Toronto and other major cities, chaos of civilization began to emerge.
The blackout damaged Toronto's traffic lights and subway.
There are four at every intersection. -way stop.
Metro passengers walk home from the blocked traffic to their feeble homes.
In many neighbourhoods, spontaneous barbecues erupt when homeowners come out of their houses at dusk.
Fifty million people lost power in Ontario and eight Americans. S. states.
Although most households resume power supply within a day, businesses across the province face mandatory or voluntary power restrictions within a week, forcing them to cut and close power. A Canada-U. S.
The Task Force investigating blackouts estimated that Ontario lost 18 workers.
Nine million hours of employment, while manufacturing shipments fell by $2. 3 billion.
But that afternoon, Warren had something more pressing in mind - especially when the blackout quickly turned into a political blackout.
Blackouts have surrounded much of northeastern North America.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki almost immediately declared publicly that they believed the blackout started in Canada.
The charges quickly reached Warren in the control room, who was already too busy to deal with.
"So the biggest challenge I've ever had, in terms of operating systems," he recalls.
"At the same time, I tried to convince others that we did not create this situation.
A detailed report elaborated by the United States Government. S. -
The Canadian contingent confirmed what Warren already knew: it wasn't Ontario's fault. The blackouts can be traced back to a series of events in Ohio - some natural events, some human events.
Trees and hot weather are natural factors.
Heat promotes demand for energy.
Power generation capacity is tight, transmission line load increases, transmission lines begin to heat up, and begin to tilt toward trees allowed to grow underground.
Then it's a unit in Donghu Coal Mine. -
The thermal power station near Cleveland broke down at 1:31 p. m. m.
That means some transmission lines have to work harder to deliver electricity from outside the region. At 2:02 p. m.
In Dayton, contact between a transmission line and a tree destroys the line.
It also weakens the ability of miso institutions that control the power grid in the region to properly evaluate the system in the next three and a half hours.
System operators can't see that other lines overload when the generator shuts down and the main transmission line disconnects, causing problems for the local power company First Energy. First Edison (FE)
It is blind in itself.
Its alarm and control systems have failed, but "for more than an hour, no one in the FE's control room has realized that their computer systems are not functioning properly," the team concluded.
Since then, blackouts have worsened.
Between 3:03 and 3:42, three other major transmission lines fell into trees and burned.
But the system operators did not realize the development of the crisis until they received emergency calls from power plants and line workers in the region.
Finally, another transmission line failed at 4:05 and most of Cleveland was blacked out. -Akron area.
A local event broke out suddenly in northeastern North America.
When some circuits fail, the power supply impacts other circuits, overloads them and trips the circuit breaker.
Overloaded lines and circuit trips in Western Cleveland.
As the Task Force put it, "As roads were cut off from the west, a huge surge of electricity poured into a counter in New York and Ontario. -
Flow clockwise along Lake Erie.
"More circuit trips.
The whole northeastern United States. S.
Then Eastern Ontario became a huge power island, "the working group wrote.
On that island, electricity demand exceeds supply.
But because there was no way to get more electricity, the whole system became unstable and collapsed.
This is what Kim Warren saw when he was four years old. 11 p. m.
"It took me about 90 seconds to implode. ” By 4:13 p. m.
Most states in Ontario and the Great Lakes region do not have electricity.
Blackout is not just an inconvenience.
It highlights some of the vulnerabilities in Ontario's power grid operations.
The power system needs electricity to run -- and it needs to be backed up urgently. -
It was later found that supplies were insufficient.
At a hydroelectric control center in Toronto, a standby diesel generator failed to start, and when workers tried to assess the problem and repair the transmission system, they were plunged into darkness at the outset.
At the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in Ottawa, the agency's emergency operations centre could not operate because its building had no electricity or backup. -up supply.
Another problem surfaced at Ontario's Pickering B nuclear power plant.
With the closure of the power grid, there is not enough auxiliary power to maintain the pumps in the emergency cooling system.
The pump stopped for five and a half hours.
Even where auxiliary power is not a problem, nuclear power plants are in trouble because the grid is in a state of collapse and they have no place to generate electricity.
The obvious answer is to turn them off -- but that's not what nuclear reactors like to do.
Bruce Electric's factories operate best.
Three quarters of people can control their output without shutting down completely and then reconnect to the grid within five hours.
It took nine days to repair the fourth time.
But many of Ontario's power plants have had to shut down completely.
It's a serious process and it takes several days for them to recover.
One of Darlington's four reactors could be online in a few hours, but the other three took three to four days.
In Pickering, the final reactor did not resume operation until August.
29 - Two weeks after the initial power failure.
The reduction in nuclear power plants has crippled Ontario, and calls on industry and consumers to reduce electricity use more than a week after the accident.
In the meantime, Warren and his operating team continue to face the daunting task of reconnecting thousands of kilometres of transmission lines with Hydro One.
It must be done correctly.
Unbalanced systems, everything could crash again.
Grid operators have received training, but have never faced such a scale of tasks.
Ten years later, Warren is still proud of Ontario's way of recovering from a catastrophic blackout.
But he still wondered how the system had made such a serious mistake elsewhere: "I think we were disappointed by the failure of our neighbours and caused countless grief in Ontario," he said.
"Enterprises have suffered serious injuries as a result.
"Will it happen again?
This is not the question that Bruce Campbell, the current CEO of IESO, likes to answer.
In 2002, a senior IESO executive also vividly recalled that night when he was driving home to help with the crisis, he turned his car back to work.
"Never say no," Campbell said when asking questions.
But he did point out that changes caused by blackouts made similar crises unlikely.
Campbell said part of the problem with the 2003 blackout was that reliability standards for power systems were not clearly defined and enforced.
Ontario already has enforceable standards - if utilities or power companies fail to meet them, they will be fined.
But in 2003, Ontario was the only jurisdiction in North America.
He said the blackout changed the situation - probably the most important outcome of an autopsy. U. S.
He said that jurisdictions have now adopted stricter and enforceable standards: "Since then, many actions have been taken to clarify reliability standards and their applications.
This led to the United States. S.
Follow our steps to make the rules mandatory and enforceable.
Campbell added: "Ontario is not static.
IESO is installing a new simulator where operators can practice on a variety of typical and non-typical models-typical events.
Other grid operators are also acquiring simulators.
Does the new standards and stricter training mean that this will not happen again?
Campbell will not retreat to that corner: "Law enforcement and compliance mechanisms are more robust than they were then, so I think the possibilities will certainly diminish," he said.
But as the long blackouts in parts of the city showed after the July floods, it's still worthwhile to be prepared.
More about the 2003 Northeast Blackout Correction-
August 14, 2013: This article was edited on the basis of a previous version, incorrectly stating that New York City survived the blackout in 2003.
In addition, the article misstated the name of First Energy, an Ohio-based power company that was the source of the blackout.