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Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response
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August 14 Blackout  

August 14 Blackout

Over 50 million people were left without power on August 14 when a blackout cascaded across the Mid-West and Northeast U.S. and Canada within a matter of minutes. The Blackout challenged the energy industry and key agencies like DHS and DOE to react in a coordinated manner to the energy emergency.

As the situation evolved, DOE's Office of Energy Assurance (the predecessor to ISER) successfully fulfilled its Energy Emergency responsibilities as defined in the Federal Response Plan, and cooperated with federal and state groups in responding to the Blackout. Examples of our actions in addressing the Blackout include:

  • Coordinating with DHS and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in gathering information and responding to the Blackout.
  • Coordinating with states through its state communications program and helping them enact measures to respond to the Blackout.
  • Monitoring activity on the electric grid with NERC.
  • Coordinating fuel status data for backup power supplies that were essential to Blackout recovery efforts.
  • Tracking petroleum refinery status and shutdowns.

Following the immediate response to the Blackout, our Office has continued to cooperate with its federal counterparts by participating in the U.S./Canada Power System Outage Task Force.

U.S./Canada Power System Outage Task Force

On August 15, 2003, President Bush announced that Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Herb Dhaliwal would co-chair a joint U.S.-Canadian task force to investigate the causes of the August 14, 2003 power outage and identify ways to prevent a recurrence. Federal, state, provincial, and local authorities, as well as private sector electricity providers, were invited to contribute to the work of the Task Force.

Our staff served on the Task Force Security Working Group in cooperation with other DOE offices and federal organizations involved in the investigation.

Final Report on the August 14, 2003 Blackout in the United States and Canada is available online. [https://reports.energy.gov/]

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