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Blackout 2003

Utility Unions Warn Country: Deregulation Led to Blackout
27-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

"[President of Utility Workers Local 270 in Cleveland, Bob] Fronek and other union leaders interviewed say 15 years of deregulation produced a rush for profits, cuts in the number of utility workers, a lack of maintenance, and failure to construct new facilities that could have prevented the blackout. Deregulation also destroyed the mechanical independence of local power companies, making them part of a national grid that became vulnerable to a rolling cascade of failures. That also means, they note, that greed and blackouts can occur elsewhere, if deregulation advances nationwide, as the Bush administration wants. Some states are resisting, however. 'By selling a free market ideology,' deregulation advocates 'for a little while managed to pry open California and suck money out," warns Eric Wolfe, Communications Director for IBEW Local 1245 in southern California."

Al Qaeda Uses Blackout for Cheap Propaganda
20-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

"Al-Qa'ida's Abu Hafs Brigades has claimed responsibility for 'Operation Quick Lightning in the Land of the Tyrant of this Generation,' referring to the blackout last week in the [US]. A communique by the Abu Hafs Brigades was published at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/abubanan2/message/330. This is the third communique by the 'Brigades' that is being published by the same web-group; in the first, they accepted responsibility for the downing of an airplane in Kenya. The second accepted responsibility for the Jakarta bombing of the Marriott hotel on August 5, 2003. The new communique says that in compliance with the orders of Osama bin Laden to strike at the American economy, the Brigades struck two important electricity supply targets on the East coast. The Brigades say that they cannot reveal how they did it, because they will probably have to use the same method again soon. The communique also claimed that the operation was meant as a present for the Iraqi people."

Why is New York Vulnerable to Ohio Problems? It's Pataki, Stupid
20-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

"It's no coincidence that both the New England network and PJM - the PA, NJ, and MD regional organization (93% of whose users were unaffected by the blackout) - expressly rejected NY merger overtures in recent years. As Assemblyman Paul Tonko put it in a report issued last October, Pataki policies have turned NY into a 'regional pariah,' with manic deregulation, skyrocketing prices, and both transmission and capacity disinvestment driving other, sounder systems away. While the PJM combine found $700 million in two years to invest in transmission improvements, NY was spending $90 million, a third of what it did in the '80s, even though the technology-driven demand on our aging downstate lines was soaring. Pataki was too busy collecting energy industry contributions by the hundreds of thousands - both from the merchant generators steaming into New York to buy power plants under the state's dream deregulation plan and the old-line utilities making millions selling them."

FirstEnergy Has Trail of Various Troubles
18-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

The blackout is being blamed on "FirstEnergy Corp., the nation's fourth-largest investor-owned utility and No. 159 on the Fortune 500 list. FirstEnergy said a system that is supposed to flash a red warning on computer monitors at the company's control center was not operational when the lines began failing Thursday... The Akron-based company has 16 power plants and an annual revenue of more than $12 billion with customers from Ohio to New Jersey. Although considered a utility, FirstEnergy operates as more of a conglomerate, handling many facets of the energy business from power plant operations to customer services. The company benefited enormously from deregulation of the industry - which is being blamed, in part, for failed efforts to overhaul the power grid. Its Davis-Besse nuclear plant east of Toledo was shut in February 2002 for maintenance. A month later, it was discovered that boric acid ate through much of a 6-inch-thick steel cap on the plant's reactor vessel."

Did Bush & Cheney 'Order' the Great Blackout?
17-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

Cheryl Seal writes: "The timing of the Thursday blackout was amazingly coincidental. It occurred just as Bush plans to shove a sweeping energy plan through Congress that will not only force American dependence on fossil fuel for decades to come, but will turn the American landscape into a network of 'supergrids' run, inevitably, by giant megacorporations sans competition - sans recourse by consumers. It occurred just as Bush's sick-joke of an alternative to the Clean Air Act, 'The Clear Skies Initiative' was facing a very uncertain future. It occurred the very day the EPA took steps to override public objections against the hideous practice of lopping the tops off Appalachian mountains -- a practice designed to insure cheap extraction of the coal needed to fuel the hundreds of new coal-burning power plants Bush's plan calls for. But if 9/11 could hand Bush the Patriot Acts, why shouldn't a massive blackout hand him the 'Energy Acts'?"

Only One Day after Bush Hears 'Wake-Up Call' to 'Modernize' Electric Grid, He Betrays that Promise
17-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

Bush "intends to side with a Senate Republican attempt to freeze a disputed regulatory proposal meant to strengthen the nation's aging power transmission system, which was blamed in last week's massive blackout... The proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would create regional transmission organizations to control the flow of power over state lines and oversee the upgrade of the transmission system. It would also, though, shift authority away from state regulators and major electric utilities, something that is anathema to opponents of the plan, who are centered in southeast and northwest... Bush's aides say... other parts of the energy bills in Congress would boost investment in the power grid by loosening regulation to encourage non-utilities and foreign firms to own transmission lines. Bush urged Congress last week to upgrade the nation's power transmission network, and FERC supporters had assumed the administration would back its regulators." Just more Bushit!

Republican Congress Blocks Progress on Electric Grid Improvements
17-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

Former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson writes, "There are moves we need to make quickly to ease the crisis facing our electric transmission system. First, we must establish mandatory reliability rules. In 1998, President Bill Clinton proposed legislation that would have required utility companies to protect and promote grid reliability. Utilities now operate under voluntary guidelines developed by the reliability council, which in practice means no one has to comply. [The REPUBLICAN] Congress needs to stop delaying and pass this legislation. Second, we need to outline basic rules of the road for utilities... Congress is considering legislation supported by utility monopolies in the Southeast that would further delay efforts by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to develop and enforce such rules. [The REPUBLICAN] Congress must defeat this measure and, instead, promote the commission's efforts to modernize the grid."

Bush 'Pioneer' Caused the Blackout!
17-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

From Mahablog: "What should have been a local problem spread so far because the Ohio power company that owned the line failed to separate itself from the grid. First Energy is the nation's 10th-largest investor-owned electric utility; its president, Tony Alexander, is a Bush 'Pioneer,' who raised more than $100,000 for the 2000 Bush campaign. Alexander was also a major player in the Bush Energy Transition Team. Just a week before the blackout began, First Energy was found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act. So... a power company facing a Clinton Administration lawsuit gives big bucks to the Republicans and ends up playing a role in the new administration's transition team. And, possibly, this company helped write government policy on energy, although we can't know that for sure because Cheney is protecting the names of GOP donors on his task force. In other words, business as usual for the Bushies. Did we all lose power because of the actions and plans of the Energy Task Force?"

GOP Opposition to Grid Improvements in 2001 Led to Blackout of 2003
16-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

BuzzFlash reports, "In June of 2001, Bush opposed and the congressional GOP voted down legislation to provide $350 million worth of loans to modernize the nation's power grid because of known weaknesses in reliability and capacity. Supporters of the amendment pointed to studies by the Energy Department showing that the grid was in desperate need of upgrades as proof that their legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) should pass. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration lobbied against it and the Republicans voted it down three separate times: First, on a straight party line in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, then on a straight party line the U.S. House Rules Committee, and finally on a party line on the floor of the full House [Roll Call Vote #169, 6/20/01]." Why did Republicans block grid improvements? Because the transmission bottlenecks let Enron & Co. manipulate supplies to rape consumers. Defeat ALL Republicans!

Power Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White House
16-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

"Within 72 hours of moving into the White House... Bush the Second reversed Clinton's executive order and put the power pirates back in business in California. Enron, Reliant (aka Houston Industries), TXU (aka Texas Utilities) and the others who had economically snipped California's wires knew they could count on Dubya, who as governor of the Lone Star state cut them the richest deregulation deal in America. Meanwhile, Republican Governor George Pataki and his industry-picked utility commissioners ripped the lid off electric bills and relieved my old friends at Niagara Mohawk of the expensive obligation to properly fund the maintenance of the grid system. And the Pataki-Bush Axis of Weasels... allowed a foreign company, the notoriously incompetent National Grid of England, to buy up NiMo, get rid of 800 workers and pocket most of their wages... Is August 14-15's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to us in the field who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe."

Democrats Tried to Invest $350 Million to Upgrade Electric Grip, But Tom DeLay Said NO
15-Aug-03
Blackout 2003

Daily Enron reports, "When Bush weighed in on the issue he quickly politicized the situation. He argued in favor of modernizing the grid, adding that he's 'said so all along.' This statement should immediately be filed under the long list of Bush administration falsehoods concerning energy policy. In June 2001, Democrats in the House advanced a proposal that would offer $350 million in federal loans for the express purpose of updating the outdated power grid. House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) blasted the proposal, calling it 'pure demagoguery' and arguing that Democrats 'have no credibility on this issue whatsoever.' House Republicans voted it down. Then they voted it down again. And then a third time. Three straight party line votes killed the bill, while the White House worked behind the scenes to orchestrate the death blow. After the bill was scuttled, Democrats issued a supplemental report once again arguing for the need to address the situation."

 


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