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July 2013 Policy Study, Number 13-5


Electricity – Make It, Use It – 24/7/365

Review of Electrical Grid Issues


Outage Recovery Developments



Another issue is the restarting of the electrical grid following a blackout – whether caused by weather or system overload. In Iowa the Interstate Power and Light Company has added a 550-MW oil and natural gas-fueled generating station designed to accomplish just that. This generator has a “black-start” capability which would be used to “trigger the restoration” of the overall generating system following a blackout. The two combustion turbines are the “first in the U.S.” to use this “static starting system.”[44]


The system cost $400 million, was completed in the mid-2000s, and is considered a leading-edge design and technology because of the complexity of the issues involved in black-starting a power plant.


Some electricity companies are converting coal-fired plants to use other energy sources in response to environmental and outage recovery issues. For example, FirstEnergy in Ohio is switching generators to produce “volts” as “reactive” energy sources, rather than producing watts from coal. The reactive power will be used to “stabilize” power surges and prevent blackouts. The lack of reactive power is a problem in Northeast Ohio and the Canada/New York area. The cost of converting two generators is about $30 million. According to a story in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, these units will be the largest in the nation.[45]




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