2003 power outage: Minister Lunn and Secretary Bodman release final report

October 02, 2006

OTTAWA -- The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources for Canada, and U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman today released the final report on the power outage that affected 50 million North Americans in August 2003.

In accordance with the mandate of the Canada-U.S. Power System Outage Task Force, the report outlines all of the actions taken to prevent or minimize the likelihood of future blackouts, reduce the scope of those that do occur and improve the security of the North American electric power grid.

"I wish to congratulate the members of the Task Force and the many organizations involved for their hard work and their determination to ensure the completion of key recommendations made to both governments to reduce the likelihood of future large-scale blackouts," said Minister Lunn. "The Task Force has been an outstanding example of close cooperation between the governments of Canada and United States, and we have established a Bilateral Electric Reliability Oversight Group for collaboration between authorities in both countries on issues of common concern."

"I appreciate the hard work and diligence that went into this important report. It demonstrates that, while improvements are being made to enhance grid reliability, this is no time for anyone to be complacent," said Secretary Bodman. "We still have a very complex system that is subject to possible mechanical and human failures. There is no substitute for ongoing vigilance."

The report deals with the largest power outage in North American history, which occurred on August 14, 2003. This outage affected an area served by 61,800 megawatts of electric power in Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Much has been accomplished in the nearly three years since the 2003 blackout. Mandatory reliability standards are being implemented in jurisdictions across Canada and in the United States. On September 15, 2006, the National Energy Board (NEB), responsible for international power lines, became the first jurisdiction in Canada to recognize the North America Electric Reliability Council (NERC) as the Electric Reliability Organization. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certified the NERC as the Electric Reliability Organization on July 20, 2006. NERC has submitted 118 reliability standards to FERC and appropriate authorities in Canada for review and approval.

The governments of the United States and Canada have also established the Bilateral Electric Reliability Oversight Group as a forum in which the U.S. Department of Energy, FERC, Natural Resources Canada and provincial energy ministries can discuss issues of common concern.

The final report denotes that the Canada-U.S. Power System Outage Task Force has fulfilled its mandate, and that the Task Force is being dissolved. The final report is available on-line at http://www2.nrcan.gc.ca/es/erb/erb/english/View.asp?x=690&oid=1221.

The governments of Canada and the United States released the final report of the Canada-U.S. Power System Outage Task Force. The report deals with the largest power outage in North American history, which occurred on August 14, 2003, and marks the end of the task force and its work.

The following media backgrounder is available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media: Power Outage in Northeastern North America

Natural Resources Canada

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