Map of the Day: Power to the People

On a sweltering afternoon in August, 2003, a blackout in Ohio cascaded across the northeast and knocked out power for 50 million people. Official inquiries blamed it on "overgrown trees," but a National Journal cover story suspected that hackers "working on behalf of the Chinese government and military" could have been responsible.

Whatever the cause, it was an embarrassment. Former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson called the United States "a superpower with a third-world electricity grid." President Bush pledged to "modernize our electric delivery system ... for economic security ... and for national security."

Seven years later, policymakers and utility companies haven't done much. The Obama administration allocated $3.4 billion in stimulus funds for "modernizing the power grid." But this week, as temperatures cracked triple digits, power outages hit towns from Alexandria to Boston.

Of course, the grid is a "complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines," but isn't this important enough for our economic and national security that we develop a stronger and smarter grid? This map from NPR shows our current haphazard grid, plus a proposal for new wind energy lines.

National Power Grid

Proposed Power Grid

Presented by

Patrick Ottenhoff has been writing The Electoral Map blog since 2007. A former staff writer for National Journal Group and project manager at New Media Strategies, he now attends Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. More

Patrick Ottenhoff attends Georgetown McDonough School of Business in the Class of 2012. He previously served as a project manager in the Public Affairs Practice of New Media Strategies and was a staff writer for National Journal Group. Patrick has been writing The Electoral Map blog since 2007. As the name implies, the blog covers news and commentary at the intersection of politics and geography, but it also analyzes the stories, people, culture, sports, and food behind the maps and the votes. Patrick is a native Virginian and graduate of Union College in New York. You can follow The Electoral Map on Twitter and Facebook, and follow Patrick on YouTube.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus