My inbox was flooded today with news of the power blackout in Florida. Originally thought to be nuclear plant automatic shut down Tuesday, causing sporadic power outages throughout the state that affected up to 3 million people. The problem may have been a combination of errors.

FPL President Armando Olivera said that a disconnect switch failed at 1:08 p.m. at the automated substation west of Miami, and a piece of equipment that controls voltage caught fire about the same time. Neither failure by itself would have caused a widespread outage. The event at the utility’s Flagami substation–not in the utility’s nuclear plant at Turkey Point, as reported earlier by some media outlets–consequently led to the rolling blackouts. It is still unclear how failure at this site spread, but with power turning off at the main Turkey Point location, which serves all of south Florida, FPL’s grid shut down as well. It contributed to a domino effect which ended up sapping energy from bordering grids all over Florida.

Police reported several people were stuck in the elevators of high-rise buildings in downtown Miami and several hospitals were running on backup power…

Failure of single distributed energy generators would not adversely affect so many people. We have been sold this paradigm of centralized power and our now watching as an ailing grid infrastructure is no longer able to bear the strain placed on it. Blackouts are a symptom of this failing infrastructure and we can expect more and more of them as energy needs continue to grow exponentially.