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1. ELECTRICITY

High-speed monitors keep watch over today's 'much more complicated' grid

By the end of next year, more than 1,000 new ultra-high-speed monitoring devices will be in place across the United States and Canadian electric power network. Called phasor measurement units, the tools provide time-stamped measures of grid conditions in milliseconds to reveal threats to the grid's stability that would be hidden from standard, slower monitors. Had synchrophasor data been available 10 years ago, the massive Aug. 14, 2003, Northeast blackout probably could have been averted, said Alison Silverstein, one of three staff directors of the U.S.-Canada task force that investigated the outage.

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