Interim Report: Causes of the August 14th Blackout in the United States and Canada

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On August 14, 2003, large portions of the Midwest and Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada, experienced an electric power blackout. The outage affected an area with an estimated 50 million people and 61,800 megawatts (MW) of electric load in the states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey and the Canadian province of Ontario. The blackout began a few minutes after 4:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (16:00 EDT), and power was not restored for 2 days in some parts of the United States. Parts of Ontario suffered rolling blackouts for more than a week before full power was restored. On August 15, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien directed that a joint U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force be established to investigate the causes of the blackout and how to reduce the possibility of future outages. They named U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Natural Resources, Canada, to chair the joint Task Force. Three other U.S. representatives and three other Canadian representatives were named to the Task Force. The U.S. members are Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security; Pat Wood, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Nils Diaz, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Canadian members are Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, Deputy Prime Minister; Kenneth Vollman, Chairman of the National Energy Board; and Linda J. Keen, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

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