Grid Regulators Examining Massive Power Outages in India

Power failures in India — being called largest blackout in history — have electric-grid regulators in the United States "very concerned" as they look into the incident, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman John Wellinghoff said on Tuesday.

India's power grid collapsed for the second time in two days on Tuesday, affecting nearly 700 million people in the country — double the U.S. population.

"We have people looking at it as we speak," Wellinghoff said at a Platts Energy Podium event. "We want to see, if we can, what has been the reason for those events occurring, whether there's any issues that we need to learn from them that relate to our grid in general."

The investigation is not formal, Wellinghoff explained, but he noted that FERC is trying to gather as much information as possible from public and private sources in the country.

"I think it certainly could cause us to step back and take a look and say — could it happen here?" he said of India's massive electrical blackout this week. "We certainly don't want to ever have the kind of cascading interconnect-wide or country-wide outage in this country."

Despite his concerns, Wellinghoff said his agency doesn't see a similar threat to the U.S. electric grid. "We believe that our grid is generally in good shape," he said. "We do have mandatory reliability requirements that we've put in place."