- WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush
administration on Tuesday moved to consolidate the investigation into the
nation's worst power blackout, saying that an industry watchdog group would
forgo its independent probe and work with a U.S.-Canadian task force.
- Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, a co-chair of the task
force, would not speculate on what might have caused the blackout that
cascaded across a vast region from Michigan to New York City last Thursday.
- "It is way too early to engage in speculation about
the role any (incident) might have had in the overall problem," Abraham
told reporters at a news conference.
- The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC),
an industry-sponsored group that monitors power grid reliability, so far
has been in the forefront of the investigation. The group has pointed to
problems in a number of high-voltage transmission lines in Ohio, belonging
to FirstEnergy Corp., saying that is where the power cascade that led to
the blackout apparently began.
- "It's important that we withhold judgment before
all the facts are in," said Abraham.
- Abraham said it was felt that there needed to be "one
ultimate finding" by a single investigation.
- He said that the NERC "has agreed to work with the
task force and forgo its own investigation of the incident."
- Abraham said, "We applaud ... what they have done
so far" but it was felt "the public would not want two or three
entities producing their versions of what happened."
- Abraham said the task force would use "all the resources
at our disposal," including the federal research laboratories as well
as experts in private industry.
- Abraham gave no estimate on when any findings would be
- Other government sources said the task force might issue
an interim report by mid-September. Abraham said there was no time table,
but that the task force would find answers "as quickly as possible
and begin implementing solutions."
- "We owe our citizens an explanation of this incident
and an assurance that steps will be taken to address the cause," he