Ten years after epic blackout, US power grid smarter

The Northeast blackout of August 14, 2003, was the biggest in the continent's history and exposed just how easily things could go horribly wrong. But out of it has spurned a more resilient system.

It was just another hot August afternoon for New York electricity grid chief Rick Gonzales, as he sat in the control room helping to make sure the state's eight million homes had enough power to keep the lights on and the air conditioning running.

While the temperature pushed toward 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the grid serving New York City and the rest of the state of 20 million people wasn't under any strain, Gonzales recalled, as the clock ticked past 4pm on the East Coast.

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