The Southwest Blackout Of 2003

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The Northeast blackout of 2003 was one of the most critical blackouts in the history which affected more than 50 million people in both the United States and Canada. The main cause of this disaster was a software bug in the energy management system used by FirstEnergy Corporation, located in Akron, Ohio. This is a perfect example of poor quality coding may led to a big disaster. For a perfectly planned power grid, the power generation of each region is matched with the power consumption within this region, so that the power lines will always carry a reasonable workload. If one power line fails to work, other parallel lines would have to carry extra power, which is bad for safety and may lead to fire. The power system operators are the ones…show more content…
And the generating plant don’t know it either. Then, because the workload was assigned to other lines, several other lines in the region also declined to work for self-protection, and the whole Ohio and Michigan got blackout short after. The company and other government departments noticed the problem, but hardly have anything to do at the time. The cascading effect is already unstoppable. Each generating plant can only separate their generators from the power grid to prevent the large current destroy their generators. So almost all the generating plants in northeastern United States and Ontario went offline, and the whole region got blackout. This happened in only 2 hours. Water pumps cannot work without power supply, so some areas also have water supply problem. And other services like public transportation (e.g. TTC streetcars), communication, and media (radio and TV stations) also affected. Some areas recovered from the blackout the same night, but most areas did not get power back until August 16th, two days after the accident. Both United States government and Canada government were criticized, and they adopted some policy to prevent future blackouts after it. Following the blackout, a thorough investigation of the energy control system was taken. GE’s developers looked through millions of lines of code and log to find the bug, and it them weeks to finally locate the bug. The bug is known as a “race condition” in computer science,
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