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Governor, FirstEnergy chairman to testify

08/29/03

Tom Diemer
Plain Dealer Bureau

Washington - Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and FirstEnergy Chairman Peter Burg will give their versions of the events of the Aug. 14 blackout next week when a U.S. House committee tries to find out what happened when the lights went out.

House Energy Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin of Louisiana says Congress wants more information about the blackout so a long-debated energy bill can be strengthened, if necessary, to deal directly with the massive failure of the electric power grid. Next month, a House-Senate conference committee meets and might consider imposing tougher reliability standards on utilities or giving more power to federal regulators.

Taft will appear before the panel Wednesday with Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Patrick Wood, and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Alan Schriber. Also on the witness list: New York Gov. George Pataki, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and Brantley Eldridge, head of the East Central Area Reliability Council in Canton.

On Thursday, Burg will get his chance to explain what happened when several FirstEnergy power lines went down in northern Ohio. Some analysts believe that the blackout - which paralyzed cities in eight states and Ontario - began with breakdowns at the Akron-based utility.

Linn Draper, president of Columbus-based American Electric Power, also is scheduled to testify and could detail how his system managed to isolate its power network from the blackout.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

tdiemer@plaind.com, 216-999-4212


2003 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.
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