In the wake of the worst electrical blackout in U. S. history, which hit eight northeastern states and portions of Canada Aug. 14, West Florida Electric Cooperative’s power supplier, Alabama Electric Cooperative, continues its efforts to minimize the chances of a similar incident on its transmission system. A U. S. and Canadian task force is investigating why a voltage collapse caused generation stations and power lines to shut down and system fail-safes were insufficient, causing approximately 50 million people to lose electricity.
Around the time of the blackout, AECs energy control center monitors displayed a spike in the system frequency for the eastern connection, according to center supervisor Tim Hattaway. "The frequency increased due to such a large loss of load in such a short time," he said. "As expected, all of the utilities in the eastern connection respond jointly to help restore the frequency to acceptable levels. There was no effect on AEC’s system, and the frequency returned close to normal within about eight minutes."
AEC continuously monitors its transmission system, enacting measures to prevent overloading and "tripping." The generation and transmission cooperative’s system maintenance and construction plans also help ensure adequate transmission capacity for forecasted demand.
"The situation in the northeast seemed to be a case of bad timing, said AEC Energy Services Department Manager Ken Skroback. "All of the factors needed for this type of incident came together at exactly the same time. Once one transmission line overloaded and tripped, it had a domino effect."
Headquartered in Andalusia, Ala., AEC generates and transmits power to 21 distribution systems, including WFEC, in northwest Florida and central and south Alabama.
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