OTTAWA - August 14, 2003, saw the worst blackout in North American history. According to the final report of the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force, the United States and Canada need to establish tighter and tougher electricity reliability standards in order to prevent a repeat of the blackout.

The report recommends the implementation of mandatory and enforceable reliability standards, backed by appropriate government oversight. It calls for strengthening the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and developing a funding mechanism for NERC and the regional reliability councils that will ensure their independence from the parties they oversee. It also recommends improved training and certification for electrical grid operators and increased physical and cyber security for the power grid.

The Task Force reviewed previous major North American power outages and found that the causes of the 2003 blackout were "strikingly similar" to those of earlier outages. To avoid future problems, the Task Force mandate has been extended by one year to ensure that its recommendations are acted upon.

Publication date: 04/12/2004