Blackouts - Past, Present and Future

Terry Boston


This MIT seminar presentation will summarize the historical blackouts starting with the great 1965 Northeast blackout with emphasis on engineering and control system failures. It will include a summary of the near miss polar vortex of 2014 and the two big freeze Texas outages including the February 15, 2021, rotating outage. Clearly power engineering is not rocket science --- it is much more important than that--- with loss of life risk and economic shutdowns. As we move to more asynchronous generation there is a need for hybrid AC/DC transmission and distribution. Going forward we must look at the weather extremes as well as how to use the speed of power electronics and storage for synthetic inertia to substitute for the rotating mass that the system historically counted on to ride through disturbances.

Speaker Bio

Terry Boston is CEO emeritus of PJM Interconnection, the largest grid operator in North America and the largest electricity market in the world. Since retiring from PJM, he has served 3 U.S. Presidents on the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Commission and has served on 4 Corporate Boards. Prior to joining PJM, he served as executive vice president of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest public-power provider in the United States. In his 35 years at TVA, he directed divisions in transmission and power operations, pricing and contracts, and electric-system reliability. Throughout his career Boston held leadership roles with several major industry organizations, including the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies and the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and Chaired GO15 (The Very Large Grid Operators of the World). He was one of eight industry experts selected to direct NERC’s investigation of the August 2003 Northeast/Midwest blackout. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and served two 3-year terms on their Board of Energy and the Environmental Systems. Boston was unanimously selected as the winner of the Platts Global Energy Life-Time Achievement Award. He received a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Tennessee Technological University and a Master of Science in engineering administration from the University of Tennessee.