Nearly a week after the Great October Snowstorm, hundreds of thousands are still without power, literally freezing in the dark. Many blame the utilities for delays in restoring the juice, while the utilities argue that trees in full leaf caused unusually high damage. The real problem, however, is the failure of the utilities to implement the maintenance and system upgrades that would have limited the damage in the first place. That failure includes insufficient preventive maintenance such as trimming branches and replacing old utility poles. It also includes failure to upgrade the grid to be more resilient so that local outages don’t cascade into massive failures like the great Northeast blackout of 2003.
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