10 Year Crossborder Blackout Anniversary Shows Importance of a Strong Canada-U.S. Relationship

Today is the ten-year of anniversary of massive, almost day-long cross-border blackout that stretched from Ontario from 8 northeastern States to Ontario.  The cause?  A sagging powerline hit a tree near Cleveland.

55 million people without power.  

New York and Toronto went dark (with two notable Liberty and hydro exceptions).  

The economic cost?  “[A]s as high as $10 billion.”

For those wanting to gorge on blackout history, the links above give you a good start.  

But the anniversary reminds us of an important, if under-reported, aspect of the Canada-U.S. relationship.  The–at times controversial–Canada-U.S. energy relationship goes far beyond oil.  

See for yourself:

And enhancing the bilateral management the Canada-U.S. power grid could make the U.S. energy portfolio more green.

From a June 2010 CIC report by Roger J. Goodman:

Advancement of the concept of Canada as a clean, secure energy supplier could be achieved through the establishment of a formal mechanism to discuss North American energy trade: a Canada-US Energy Trade Council. The focus of this new initiative would be on energy security, foreign policy, and expanded energy trade, including all forms of energy, not just electricity. Secure energy has a different connotation than clean energy alone, because oil and natural gas exports are also critical to both the health of the Canadian economy and energy security for US consumers.

An ad hoc approach to electricity exports will likely preclude our successful capture of the full range of economic opportunities; implementation of a more formal mechanism coordinated at the federal level is more likely to achieve this objective. The Canadian federal government should take on a leadership role but work closely with the provinces, as they are the owners of the resources. The proposed council would comprise members appointed by the prime minister of Canada and the president of the United States, including executive level representatives of the regulatory agencies in energy, environment, and economic development. It would also involve active participation by provinces and states where key decisions are made on fuel choice and technology.


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