India's Power Outage Leaves 600 Million People in Dark

Largest blackout in history; is the U.S. prepared?
1:50 | 07/31/12

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Transcript for India's Power Outage Leaves 600 Million People in Dark
NOW THE STUNNING HEADLINES. THE WORST BLACKOUT IN THE HISTORY OF THE PLANET. MORE THAN 600 MILLION PEOPLE ACROSS INDIA. IT'S AS IF THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF NORTH AND SOUTHERN AMERICA COMBINED WERE THROWN IN THE DARK. JIM AVILA ANSWERS THE QUESTION, COULD IT HAPPEN HERE? Reporter: SHADES OF THE GREAT BLACKOUT OF 2003 -- AMERICA'S LARGEST -- KNOCKING 55 MILLION IN THE NORTHEAST INTO THE DARK. BUT THIS TIME IT'S TWICE THE POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT POWER. INDIA, WHERE SUBWAYS ARE STOPPED AND NO AIR CONDITIONING IN 100-DEGREE WEATHER TODAY. IN GREAT SUPPLY -- FRUSTRATION AND DESPAIR. THE WHOLE SYSTEM WAS AT A STANDSTILL. THAT GOES TO SHOW HOW VULNERABLE WE ARE. Reporter: AND TODAY AT THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION'S COMMAND CENTER, A RIPPLE OF UNCERTAINTY ABOUT HOW VULNERABLE THIS COUNTRY IS. CAN SOMETHING LIKE INDIA HAPPEN HERE? IT CAN'T SPREAD TO CALIFORNIA WAS THE GRID IS DIVIDED HERE IN THE NATION. Reporter: THE MAIN DIFFERENCE, SAY ENGINEERS, IS AMERICA'S GRID IS NOW MONITORED MORE CLOSELY THAN EVER, CHECKING FOR LINE SURGES 30 TIMES A SECOND. AND SINCE THE NORTHEAST'S 2003 BLACKOUT, 16,000 MILES OF NEW TRANSMISSION LINES HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE GRID. STILL, SOME IN THE NORTHEAST ARE MORE THAN 70 YEARS OLD. A LOT OF IT IS OLD. THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT IT. Reporter: TODAY'S BIGGEST DOMESTIC FEAR, CYBER ATTACK ON THE GRID. RECENTLY, THE WHITE HOUSE HAD A CYBER EXERCISE, A TRIFTD ATTACK THAT TOOK DOWN THE POWER GRID. Reporter: REGULATORS POINT OUT, EVEN WITH THE HOTTEST SUMMER ON RECORD, UNLIKE INDIA, JUST EMERGING FROM THE DARK, AMERICA'S GRID IS HOLDING. JIM AVILA, ABC NEWS, WASHINGTON.

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