A few long-distance DC cables are already in use in North America. The lines are cheaper, and can share rights of way with AC lines. The cables can be engorged with far more power, and it can be turned on and off like a water spigot, making billing more accurate, Taub said.
Meanwhile, long-term control over the grid at the center of the blackout inquiry, owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., will be transferred to GridAmerica, a subsidiary of London-based National Grid Transco, in October.
GridAmerica, which will also take over interstate electrical transmissions for two other Midwest utilities, says it will invest $500 million in adding more capacity to the lines, building new lines or buying the lines outright.