WASHINGTON - The Ohio utility under
scrutiny in the blackout, FirstEnergy Corp., released an eight-page
timeline to congressional investigators Thursday on transmission
problems during the hours leading up to the Aug. 14 outage.
FirstEnergy Chairman H. Peter Burg told a congressional hearing
that his company's grid was properly maintained and worked
correctly, despite dramatic power surges.
"A critical fact is that the system kept working as it was
designed to do, despite all of these circumstances," Burg told
members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The nation's worst blackout cascaded across eight states and
parts of Canada, leaving millions of people in the dark and shutting
down more than 100 power plants.
Investigators believe the outage started in Ohio and Michigan
with a handful of commonplace "trips" - brief transmission line
shutdowns, usually due to voltage changes, such as power
FirstEnergy's timeline lists events in Eastern Daylight Savings
Time. The names of the transmission lines refer to power substations
owned by FirstEnergy and American Electric Power, FirstEnergy's
neighboring utility to the south.
Some key moments:
12:05 p.m. - American Electric Power's 245-megawatt Conesville
power plant trips.
1:31 p.m. - FirstEnergy's Eastlake power plant trips. (Officials
previously had put this failure at about 2 p.m.) Despite this
failure, FirstEnregy says its lines remained balanced and
3:05 p.m. - FirstEnergy's Chamberlin-Harding high-voltage line
3:32 p.m. - FirstEnergy's Hanna-Juniper line trips after contact
with a tree.
3:38 p.m. - South Canton-Star, shared by AEP and FirstEnergy,
3:42 p.m. - FirstEnergy's Perry nuclear power plant reports
3:42 p.m - Cloverdale-Torrey line, shared by FirstEnergy and AEP,
fails and remains off line because of an overload stemming from
problems at the South Canton-Star line.
3:44 p.m. - AEP's East Lima-New Liberty line trips.
3:44 p.m. - FirstEnergy's Pleasant Valley-West Akron line trips.
Pleasant Valley's eastern leg fails 15 minutes later after a
3:45 p.m. - Cloverdale-Canton Central, shared by FirstEnergy and
AEP, trips after being overloaded.
3:45 p.m. - AEP's Canton Central-Tidd line trips but is restored
automatically after one minute.
3:51 p.m. - AEP's East Lima-North Findlay line trips.
4:05 p.m. - Dale-West Canton line, shared by FirstEnergy and AEP,
4:06 p.m. - FirstEnergy's Sammis-Star line trips and 150
megawatts of electricity that had been flowing from Ohio to Michigan
is reversed. FirstEnergy calls the reversal, in itself,
4:09 p.m. - Two AEP lines, Muskingum-Ohio Central and East
Lima-Fostoria, are tripped automatically in response to power line
problems. AEP says the action prevented cascading outages to the
4:09-4:11 - Power flows increase dramatically from eastern
Michigan into Ohio and from Ohio into western Michigan. Power plants
in both states begin to sever themselves from the troubled grid.
4:11 p.m. - A massive power blackout begins to cascade across
eight states from Ohio and Michigan to New York.