The Blackouts of the Power Grid of North America – A Review

N. Hossein-Zadeh and A. Kalam (Australia)


Power System Blackout, Stability and Reliability of Power Systems


The interconnected electrical power system is a complicated dynamic system. The stability of this complex dynamic system is a major issue when a disturbance or fault occurs in the system. There is a possibility that a major disturbance may lead to instability and regional blackout, as we observed it recently (August 14, 2003) in the North American continent with a major blackout that affected 50 million people in a very large area. Depending on the nature of the fault, system configuration and operating conditions, various types of instability such as transient instability, dynamic (or small-signal) instability or voltage instability (voltage collapse) may occur and if not contained by on time control actions lead to major outage (blackout) of the electrical power.

This article reviews some problems related to the blackouts with an emphasis on the technical and structural issues as well as problems related to human resources and educational aspects of power systems.

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