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Richard Piatt ReportingThe electricity that's powering your TV is coming to you on a system that's old and fragile. Millions of people found out just how fragile energy infrastructure is during recent power outages. The most recent in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel.
From substations to power poles and the wires in the lines themselves, millions of Americans depend on an electricity delivery system that is not state of the art. The flaws of such old technology reveal themselves at the worst times, for instance during hurricane Isabel where thousands have been dark for a week.
In the west short supply and high demand spelled crisis a couple summers ago.
Gov. Mike Leavitt: "It was the single most paralyzing event in the west, the lack of electrical power. I have likened it to a wake-up call to a heart patient."
That's why the Governors of Utah and Wyoming are planning for change. More than 150 key energy officials are in Utah this weekend trying to find a way to fix the system before it's broken.
One obstacle: Who pays for it all? An FERC commissioner says cost shouldn't be a barrier to doing something.
Nora Brownell, Federal Energy Commissioner: "I think one of the things this kind of an opportunity and organization give to us is getting real about what those costs are and balancing those benefits."
Across the Midwest and East this summer, millions of people found out how much they depend on power and how undependable the transmission system is. It's a lesson that will be repeated, experts predict.
Dave Freudenthal, Governor of Wyoming: "Frankly I'm not above taking advantage of the urgency that those events give to it in order to make sure that it succeeds."
More people than ever don't have to imagine life without power. It's happening more and more for days at a time in America. Keeping the lights on is as simple and as complicated as planning and investing in the best technology.