Karen Ocamb

Massive Blackout Caused by Human Error

Filed By Karen Ocamb | September 09, 2011 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Arizona, blackout, power outage, San Diego, Southern California

Very scary prospect - on the cusp of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 - that one single person could cause such widespread trouble. Just how secure are we? One good thing to come out of the relatively short period is how so many people came out to help each other.


Power companies in Southern California restored electricity to most customers by early Friday after a massive blackout on Thursday left nearly 5 million people in parts of California, Arizona and Mexico in the dark.

Although the outage, apparently caused by a mistake by a single worker, was just a tenth the size of the 2003 blackout that left about 50 million people without power in the eastern United States and Canada, it will surely rank as one of the biggest blackouts in recent history, certainly one of the biggest caused by human error.

Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric power company said it restored power to its 1.4 million customers at 3:25 a.m. Western time Friday.

That was almost 12 hours after a major electric transmission system outage in western Arizona and the loss of a key connection with the 2,150-megawatt San Onofre nuclear power plant in California resulted in the most widespread power outage in the company's history, SDG&E said.

Blackouts also affected 3.5 million people in Baja California, according to local officials.

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(Crossposted at LGBT POV)

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Karen, I will share with you a truism I learned from my grandparents and that has been reinforced during my 12 years in I.T.:

A system is only as smart as the idiot that breaks it.

'Nuff sed.

No to sound too paranoid, each time I take my shoes off at airport security, I think of our country's infrastructure vulnerabilities, including the California aqueduct system. We can expect to see more system disruptions, not only from human error, but our lack of investment in repairing aging systems. Couple this with the ongoing assault on health and safety regulation enforcement, and we are a disaster waiting to happen.