AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Byline: LAUREN MAYK email@example.com
There was no question why the lights went out in Charlotte County.
Winds of up to 145 mph snapped wooden poles, blowing power lines into trees and across back yards on the afternoon of Friday the 13th. The next morning, Florida's power system had a big hole where Hurricane Charley had taken a soggy but mighty bite.
Things were not so clear one year ago, when the lights went out for millions of people in parts of eight states on the afternoon of Aug. 14, 2003.
That time, Florida residents watched from the comfort of their air-conditioned homes as droves of New Yorkers wandered unlit streets and camped out on the pavement of a dark and sticky city.
They thought about terrorism, a fear that was quickly discounted. They heard people blame Canada, a theory that also proved to be wrong.
And they heard power experts imply that an outdated power grid was finally buckling under the stress of an August afternoon.
The state of the complex highway system that carries electricity got plenty of attention in the days immediately after the blackout, when some experts thought it was the reason 50 million people were in the dark and called for a physical overhaul.
But once blame shifted to a tree in Ohio, so did the focus of changes in the power system.
"Those are issues that NERC (the North American Energy Reliability Council) has been addressing for many years," said Ken Wiley, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council, a NERC member. "That wasn't a new issue addressed because of the blackout."
Even with hundreds of pages of blackout investigations completed and new guidelines for utility companies approved, …