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IU Media Relations

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Friday, August 15, 2003

IU faculty experts available to discuss 2003 Blackout

EDITORS: As Americans in several major U.S. cities, including New York City, continue to recover from a major electrical blackout, Indiana University Bloomington is making available faculty experts who can discuss the electrical utility industry, health and stress issues, and the event's economic impact. You are encouraged to contact these people directly, but if you need assistance, contact the media representatives listed in this release.

-- Thomas P. Lyon, professor of business economics and public policy in IU's Kelley School of Business, is an expert on utility regulation and economics and the organizational structure behind the industry. Lyon questions the reliability of the current grid system, because the transmission system was not built to handle the current exchanges of power between utilities. He believes more coordination is needed. "What we need is a regulatory regime that supports cooperation at the regional level. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been trying for years to create that kind of environment and faced considerable political pressure," Lyon said. "At the most, utility companies are in a sort of limbo. They act without knowing what kind of federal regulation they'll face in the future, and they're reluctant to invest when they don't know the rules of the game." Lyon's varied work experience has included positions with the U.S. Department of Energy and Public Service Electric and Gas Co. He has served as a consultant to a variety of organizations, including the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission, when it was considering whether to deregulate its electrical utility system. Lyon teaches managerial economics and game theory in the MBA program. He is currently on leave at the U.S. Department of Justice and can be reached at 202-616-9933 or

-- Kathleen Gilbert, associate professor of applied health science at IU Bloomington, is a leading expert on family stress. She is available to discuss how people living in the areas affected by the 2003 Blackout and their worried families have coped with the crisis. As she watched the events unfold, Gilbert said she was impressed with the resilience of New Yorkers and others who found themselves stranded in subway cars and elevators and stuck on jammed city streets in the sweltering heat. "These were people who didn't have any access to radio and TV and couldn't get the word that this wasn't the result of a terrorist attack," Gilbert said. "When you're unable to get the information you need and unable to get in touch with loved ones, this is when things can get extremely stressful. Interestingly enough, these people didn't jump to any conclusions. Instead, their reaction was 'we've been through worse things than this. We can deal with it.'" Gilbert struggled with her own anxieties on Thursday (Aug. 14). Her husband was in New York City on a business trip and out of contact once the power outage hit the city. Fortunately, his flight made it out of the city and back to Indianapolis. Gilbert can be reached at 812-855-5209 (office), 812-332-3404 (cell phone) or

-- Morton Marcus teaches economics for IU's Kelley School of Business and is the former director of the Indiana Business Research Center. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Marcus is an internationally recognized expert on regional economies and can discuss the impact of the 2003 Blackout on local economies. He teaches urban and macroeconomics. Marcus is readily available today at his cell phone at 317-626-8853. His e-mail is