CA energy expert weighs in on India power outage

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Indian women and children wait inside a darkened train carriage at a railway station in New Delhi on July 31, 2012.

A massive power outage in India left more than 600 million people without electricity for several hours on Tuesday.

UCLA Professor Rajit Gadh grew up in India and says blackouts were fairly regular, especially in the summer. India’s people and leaders took them in stride.

"One third of town loses the power," Gadh recalls. "Okay, fine, big deal, move on. Right? Half of town loses power: Okay, fine, big deal, move on, right?"

Not anymore. India wants to develop a thriving technology sector and needs a reliable grid. Gadh founded UCLA’s Smart Grid Energy Research Center. He says India’s first challenge is to make the vast grid easier to monitor, so that engineers can spot the cause of an outage quickly – even in advance.

“When you have less data coming in about the grid, there is less number of things you can do and you are often shooting in the dark," says Gadh.

Twenty of India’s 28 states found themselves in the dark. Gadh says a black-out of this magnitude will get India’s leaders focused on how to fix the power grid.

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