Yeah, One Idiot Blacked Out the Entire Southwest Yesterday

September 9, 2011

Take a moment and ponder the problems faced by some of our readers in the Southwest, until recently without power. While not the biggest power outage in history, five million people lost power and parts of Mexico, Arizona, and California were blacked out for hours. And why?

Because of one dumbass in Arizona.

The dumbass in question, who hasn't been named presumably because the power company wants to chew him out first, did what should have been a simple process: he pulled a piece of monitoring equipment out of a substation. Yep, that's it. He wasn't even doing his job incorrectly: the monitoring device was faulty and he was swapping it out. Which presumably he did and then got a call from his mom asking why there wasn't any power.

Nobody's really sure exactly what happened, but they do know it triggered a chain reaction in the system that led to electrical shutdowns, up to and including San Onofre, one of the major nuclear reactors in the area. Among other fun things, it led to 3.2 million tons of sewage being dumped on San Diego's beaches and shut down the entire school system right at the start of the semester. Yeah, oops.

So to at least one group, little kids, this guy is a hero. Unless they had a grandma on life support or something.

Photo: sturti/Vetta/Getty Images