MEDIA WATCH: Blackout report finds FirstEnergy to blame

Vague and voluntary industry standards for reliability must be altered, concluded the final report from US-Canadian investigators into last summer's blackout. The report cited Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy's lax approach to precautions as a primary cause, finding that the blackout could have been avoided. Media coverage noted that partisan infighting in Congress has stalled passage of new legislation to strengthen regulation and to appoint a more independent regulator, warning that another blackout could occur without such changes.

Vague and voluntary industry standards for reliability must be altered, concluded the final report from US-Canadian investigators into last summer's blackout. The report cited Ohio-based utility FirstEnergy's lax approach to precautions as a primary cause, finding that the blackout could have been avoided. Media coverage noted that partisan infighting in Congress has stalled passage of new legislation to strengthen regulation and to appoint a more independent regulator, warning that another blackout could occur without such changes.

Most frequent messages 1. Standards need to be mandatory, not voluntary 2. FirstEnergy is largely to blame 3. The blackout could have been prevented 4. Congress has dragged its feet on passing regulations 5. The North American Energy Reliability Council should be independent of utilities

Based on 39 US newspaper and wire stories appearing April 4-7, 2004 Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International.

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