Causes of the 2003 major grid blackouts in North America Europe, and recommended means to improve system dynamic performance

G. Andersson, P. Donalek, R. Farmer, N. Hatziargyriou, I. Kamwa, P. Kundur, N. Martins, J. Paserba, P. Pourbeik, J. Sanchez-Gasca, R. Schulz, A. Stankovic, C. Taylor, V. Vittal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1029 Scopus citations


On August 14, 2003, a cascading outage of transmission and generation facilities in the North American Eastern Interconnection resulted in a blackout of most of New York state as well as parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. On September 23, 2003, nearly four million customers lost power in eastern Denmark and southern Sweden following a cascading outage that struck Scandinavia. Days later, a cascading outage between Italy and the rest of central Europe left most of Italy in darkness on September 28. These major blackouts are among the worst power system failures in the last few decades. The Power System Stability and Power System Stability Controls Subcommittees of the IWO POS Power System Dynamic Performance Committee sponsored an all day panel session with experts from around the world. The experts described their recent work on the investigation of grid blackouts. The session offered a unique forum for discussion of possible root causes and necessary steps to reduce the risk of blackouts. This white paper presents the major conclusions drawn from the presentations and ensuing discussions during the all day session, focusing on the root causes of grid blackouts. This paper presents general conclusions drawn by this Committee together with recommendations based on lessons learned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1922-1928
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Power Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Blackouts
  • Power system control
  • Power system dynamic performance
  • Power system stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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