Utility rate-payers "obviously will pay the bill" to update the nation's power grid, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told CBS-TV's "Face the Nation" Sunday, while calling for mandatory reliability standards after last week's massive outage in the Northeast, Midwest, and parts of Canada. Some estimates put upgrade costs as high as $56 billion. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reported that the economic and social toll of the blackout itself could reach $6 billion.
The utility at the center of the blackout investigation says it couldn't have triggered Thursday's cascading power outages. "What happened ... is much more complex than a few tripped power lines in our system," FirstEnergy Corp. said. The company, based in Akron, Ohio, claimed unusual fluctuations hit the power grid three hours before it went down, although it wasn't immediately clear whether other utilities detected similar problems.
California's gubernatorial recall race heated up, as conservative Bill Simon ran radio ads Sunday attacking Republican rival Arnold Schwarzenegger a liberal on tax issues. The actor's spokesman responded by saying Simon apparently "learned a lesson from [Gov.] Gray Davis" by misrepresenting his opponent's positions. Simon lost to Davis in the regular election. The Davis administration also came under fire from Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D), who accused "the governor's minions" of trying to undercut his campaign in an NBC-TV interview.
Indicating he'll decide within three weeks on a 2004 presidential bid, former NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark told CNN's "Late Edition" Sunday that he's found "enormous hunger for leadership" on a tour of the country. Clark, who's been a military analyst for the cable network, also criticized the Bush administration over the war in Iraq. If he decides to run, Clark would be the 10th Democrat seeking the party's nomination.
Motorists in Phoenix were facing long lines and gas prices around $1.90 a gallon, after the city's only pipeline was shut down Aug. 8 due to a rupture. The pipeline operator, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, said it could take two weeks to reopen. Meantime, a spokeswoman at AAA said that while distribution is "extremely slow," fuel is coming into Arizona at the same rate as before the shutdown.
Relative unknown Shaun Micheel won the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., by two strokes Sunday thanks in part to a 175-yard shot that landed two inches from the pin on the final hole. The victory propelled him from No. 169 to No. 46 in the pro golf rankings. No. 1, Tiger Woods, hasn't won a major tournament this year. First-timers won all four Grand Slam events on the men's tour for first time since 1969.