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Solar storm triggers slow-moving earthbound tempest at FERC

Just after 2:44 on the morning of March 13, 1989, rogue electrical currents caused a large voltage regulation unit to shut down on the Hydro-Québec power system 300 miles north of Montreal. Other controls automatically tripped off to protect the network. Within one minute, the massive La Grande Hydroelectric Complex east of Hudson's Bay was cut off from Quebec cities to the south, triggering a cascading blackout that temporarily cut power to nearly 6 million people in the province. The currents came from a powerful solar eruption that has made the incident the center of a debate before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over the potential damage a solar superstorm might do to the U.S. electric power grid.


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