A utility official says Iowa is “very vulnerable” to the same type of cascading, widespread power outage that yesterday effected 50 million people in the northeastern U-S and Canada. The outage didn’t reach Iowa because our state is on a different power grid from those in the northeast, but Alliant Energy spokeswoman Lisha Coffey says the midwestern power grid is just a susceptible to a massive domino-effect blackout. Coffey says “even though we are on a seperate major grid, yes, we could easily be effected by a situation like that.” She compares what happened in the northeast to having a breaker thrown in your own home that trips other breakers to prevent damage — but on an enormous scale — which took out power from Michigan to Vermont. An official with Iowa’s largest utility is more optimistic about Iowa’s chances of avoiding a statewide blackout. Todd Raba is senior vice president of energy delivery services for MidAmerican Energy. Raba says the power grid that failed yesterday in the northeastern U-S is very overloaded due to the population concentration. Raba says “being part of a different power pool, we’re really in a different circumstance than those folks. Our systems are not as constrained as the systems in the northeast and we’ve been able to effectively manage high demand circumstances accordingly.” Raba says power outages “happen all the time” — he says it’s just part of the business. MidAmerican has about 600,000 electric customers in Iowa. Alliant has 470,000.
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