US grid operators on alert; Con Ed suspends some service

US electric grid operators reported systems were functioning normally, but in a state of heightened alert for the most part Tuesday at midafternoon in the aftermath of an apparent terrorist attack in New York and Washington, DC.

Consolidated Edison Inc., which serves hard hit Manhattan, said in a bulletin electric service between West street and the Hudson River south of Chambers street has been suspended due to equipment problems related to the emergency at the World Trade Center, which collapsed earlier in the day after being hit by two airplanes.

Con Edison said gas and steam service in that area have also been interrupted. Con Edison crews are continuing to work closely with all emergency personnel. A spokesman for KeySpan Corp. said the company and Long Island Power Authority have both offered equipment to Con Edison.

“It’s extremely chaotic,” said KeySpan spokesman Rob Brown.

Ken Klapp, a spokesman for the New York Independent System Operator, said disruptions in Con Edison’s service territory have not affected grid operations in the rest of the state. The markets and communications systems are still functioning normally, but the grid operator has taken the precaution of bringing extra market people to man the telephones, if there are interruptions on the internet server used for bidding.

PJM Interconnection LLC, the grid operator for the midAtlantic, including Washington, DC, had no problems reported on the gird, spokeswoman Beth Foley said. “Given the extreme conditions going on, we are operating conservatively and of course heightening our security is one of those procedures as well.”

Foley said power was never lost on the grid and PJM markets were not suspended.

The Northeast is in a “heightened state of awareness,” said Craig Kazin, spokesman for the ISO New England. But the grid is operating fine and there is plenty of power, he said. New England ISO also volunteered to help New York.

“They told us they were handling the situation themselves,” said Kazin. “The problems are isolated to Manhattan and there was no call to us for assistance to the New York area.” The Northeast Power Coordinating Council scheduled a 2:30 p.m. teleconference to discuss security and power system contingencies, he said.

“We have dusted off the procedures,” Kazin said.

The California grid operation is “occurring almost like business as usual,” said spokesman Gregg Fishman. “No decision has been made about whether to suspend markets. We have taken extra security precautions, that’s all I can say.”

Earlier, the California Independent System Operator said with so many of the major market trading centers closed Tuesday, “it is possible we will have some difficulty facilitating today’s hour-ahead markets and tomorrow’s [Wednesday’s] day-ahead market.

“We are not suspending either market at this time. However, the possibility exists that either or both markets will be suspended later today”

Fishman said suspending the markets will not have any effect on grid stability. The California ISO said there is more than enough power available today to meet the expected loads, and the ISO is receiving full support and cooperation from market participants.

“We have locked down the system pretty well,” said Lou Leffler, of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC). “We are aware of the enormous challenge.”

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