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August 16, 2003

Initiates effort to investigate Illinois’ vulnerability to major outage

Lt. Gov. Quinn to chair task force


CHICAGO – After this week’s power outage affecting major portions of the northeast United States and southeast Canada, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the creation of a Special Task Force on the Condition and Future of the Illinois Energy Infrastructure.  The committee will conduct a comprehensive analysis of Illinois’ energy infrastructure, and recommend any necessary changes to meet demand and respond to widespread outages similar to the August 14 Niagara Electric Grid failure.


“We need to learn from what we witnessed in the Northeast this week.  An outage of that magnitude presents serious health and safety concerns to those involved,” Blagojevich said.  “The demand for energy continues to increase, and we have a responsibility to make sure we can continue meeting that demand without overloading our system and putting our citizens in danger.”


Thursday’s blackout in the Northeast was the worst in U.S. history, affecting communities from New York City to Detroit and Cleveland, and costing the region hundreds-of-millions in lost tax revenue, lost business and overtime for emergency personnel.  As a result, the United States and Canada have formed a joint task force to review the causes of the Niagara Electric Grid outage.


Blagojevich asked Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn to lead a special task force to look into Illinois’ vulnerability to a similar failure.  Quinn, who served as State Treasurer from 1991 to 1995, spearheaded the consumer movement that won passage of legislation establishing the landmark Citizens Utility Board (CUB) in 1983.  As an attorney, he has represented consumers in numerous proceedings before the Illinois Commerce Commission over the past two decades.


“In light of  the catastrophic power failure in the East, it’s imperative that we thoroughly examine every part of Illinois’ energy infrastructure to protect the health and safety of our citizens,” said Quinn.


Top state officials with expertise in public safety or the regulation and use of energy in Illinois will join Quinn on the 11-member task force: 


·        Bill Burke, Director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and an Army veteran with certification in aviation safety management;

·        Renee Cipriano, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and a former Associate Director and Chief Legal Counsel of the IEPA;

·        John Filan, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and former founding principal and managing partner of the firm FPT&W, which worked with dozens of municipalities and state governments;

·        Carl Hawkinson, Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety who previously served in both the Illinois House and Senate and was a Knox County State’s Attorney;

·        Ed Hurley, Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission and a former administrative law judge for the ICC from 1984 to 1991;

·        Jack Lavin, Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity responsible for overseeing the Illinois Bureau of Energy and Recycling;

·        Susan Lichtenstein, General Counsel to the Governor, former counsel to Tellabs – a telecommunications infrastructure company – and former senior vice president and general counsel of Ameritech Corporation;

·        John Mitola, Chairman of the Illinois Tollway Authority and chief executive of Electric City Corp., a company that specializes in developing, manufacturing and integrating energy saving technologies;

·        Michael Ruman, Director of Central Management Services and former president of People’s Energy Services, a major provider of electricity and natural gas in Illinois;

·        Gary Wright, Director of the Division of Nuclear Safety, which administers more than two-dozen programs dealing with monitoring operations at active nuclear power sites, inspecting nuclear shipments and overseeing clean-up efforts.


The task force will look into a number of questions about the condition of Illinois’ energy infrastructure and preparedness to deal with a large-scale outage.


·        Is the Illinois energy infrastructure protected from a catastrophic power failure?

·        What are the ingredients of a safe, reliable comprehensive energy plan for Illinois in the 21st Century?

·        What level of modernization is necessary to protect consumers from a widespread outage?

·        What can Illinois do to promote the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy to relieve pressure on the electric grid?

·        Are Illinois utilities taking appropriate steps to reduce electric demand during warm weather?

·        What are the testing procedures used by Illinois utilities to monitor and maintain reliability and safety of the energy infrastructure? 

·        Do Illinois utilities have sufficient personnel dedicated to maintaining the integrity of their transmission and distribution systems?

·        Do Illinois nuclear power plants have sufficient safeguards for public health and safety in the event of a cascading power outage?

·        Does Illinois have adequate backup generating capacity for emergency and critical law enforcement facilities in the event of a widespread power outage?


The task force will review Illinois’ energy system through the end of 2003, and will report its findings to the Governor in early 2004.



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