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Congestion Might Clog Nation's Power Grid

Jul 27, 2006 - UPI

Electricity demand is forecast to increase 20 percent by 2008 from 1998 levels, yet the increase in transmission capacity is still below 5 percent.

Scientists say inadequate investment in the power transmission network remains the Achilles heel of the U.S. electric grid system.

George Gross, a University of Illinois professor of electrical and computer engineering, says the electric industry and government regulators have addressed the immediate problems that led to the nation's worst power failure on Aug. 14, 2003. That includes passage of mandatory reliability standards for the industry.

But Gross says the broader problems of transmission congestion and bottlenecks continue to threaten the reliability of the electric grid, particularly during periods of peak demand.

"The August 2003 blackout was a wake-up call for the country to upgrade its transmission grid system," Gross said. "But the truth is very few major transmission projects have been constructed and, as a result, transmission capacity has failed to keep pace with the expansion of power demand."

Gross noted electricity demand is forecast to increase 20 percent by 2008 from 1998 levels, yet the increase in transmission capacity is still below 5 percent

. "The need to strengthen the existing transmission infrastructure, to expand it and to effectively harness advances in technology constitutes the single most pressing challenge for the country's electricity system," he said.

Updated: 2016/06/30

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