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FirstEnergy says they learned a lot after the blackout

FirstEnergy says they learned a lot after the blackout

(Akron) -- Ten years ago today (Wednesday), the power went out to 45 million customers in the United States and another 10 million in Canada, thanks to a blackout that started in FirstEnergy's northern Ohio distribution territory.

Ten years later, FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin tells WTAM 1100 that a joint US-Canadian task force found out that FirstEnergy was not the only company responsible for the widespread blackout, in which customers lost power as far west as Michigan, as far north as Toronto, and as far east as Massachusetts.

According to Durbin, the task force found 800 reasons that the blackout spread the way it did, and also determined a number of ways to prevent such a widespread blackout in the future. One of the things being done is better trimming of trees that come close to major power lines, which was determined to be one of many things that made the blackout spread so fast and so far. Computer issues were also blamed for the blackout.

Durbin says people remember the 2003 blackout so well in part because it was so widespread, and because it happened less than two years after the 9/11 attacks, so people were still on edge.

He says that in hindsight, this ended up being a good thing for the nation's power grid. "The industry learned a lot about how the power grid was being used on a day-to-day basis."

Alex Margeviciuf, interim communications director with the Cleveland Division of water remembers the day of the blackout like being in a "fog of war", "it was very difficult to get an understanding from the power companies what was going on, how long the duration of this might be".

Margeviciuf says he didn't realize what a huge problem they had until they realized both Cleveland Public Power and FirstEnergy were down. Reserve tanks had to be used and by 10:00 that night east side residents began experiencing power outages. The outages soon spread to the west and lasted until power began being restored.

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