That began a series of power gyrations as the Ohio-Michigan
electric grid system tried but failed for more than an hour to
And then the blackout began.
It first hit Lansing, Mich., at 4:09:02 p.m., at two General
Motors plants there.
That was the first indication of major trouble, according to the
FBI and a private industry log of power grid incidents obtained by
"Once that disturbance occurred, shortly after that, about four
seconds after that, we saw another disturbance of similar magnitude
in nearby locations and then we started seeing ripple effect," said
Deepak Divan, CEO of Softswitching Technologies.
Four seconds later, at 4:09:06, the power crash skipped to
suburban Cleveland, skipping along the interconnected Ohio-Michigan
A second major outage was registered at another GM plant, in
Parma, Ohio, the pivotal point in the blackout, according to FBI
Spread Too Far
The Ohio power company failed to separate from the national
electric grid, as it was supposed to and as Michigan did. Thus the
cascade of problems was sent on to New York.
"The system is designed to isolate itself to protect that area,
to have the area go down and have the rest of the system survive.
And instead it spread further and longer than it should have," said
Michehl R. Gent, president and CEO of the North American Electric
A spokesman for the Ohio power company, FirstEnergy Corp., said
it had followed all proper procedures but would not comment
specifically on whether it had triggered the huge blackout by
failing to separate.
"If they had separated you might have seen a region in Ohio area
that would have been without power, but you would not have seen it
in almost a national scale, as we did," Divan said.