The holiday season offers an opportunity to take stock of the positive relationships that make our lives a bit brighter. One for which the electricity sector is particularly thankful is the electricity partnership between Canada and the U.S.
This longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship has not only stood the test of time, but it continues to flourish and evolve. Over 110 years ago, the first transmission line was built between Canada and the U.S., This cross-border electricity relationship has grown to become a trusted partnership indispensable to North American energy and energy security.
Over the years, Canadians and Americans have worked together to expand that one transmission line into a highly integrated electricity system linked by over 35 cross-border transmission lines – with more currently under development. This system of power lines, generation facilities and related communications networks generates and transmits electricity reliably across immense distances 24/7 is often referred to as “the world’s largest machine”.
Thanks to this integration, Canadians and Americans enjoy some electric benefits. The shared electricity system, and the robust two-way electricity trade it allows between Canada and the U.S., has resulted in the resilient, reliable and secure grid that we depend on to power our economy. It also helps make life a little less expensive – integration of electricity markets means supply can meet demand in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.
The holidays remind us of the value of sharing, and Canadians and Americans are trusted neighbours when it comes to sharing custody of the grid. The electricity industry and government partners on both sides of the border work together to keep the grid reliable and secure. We have created cross-border institutions and developed a culture of information sharing and cooperation to protect our grid from threats such as cyber attacks and major storms, and to develop the standards and best practices that keep our grid reliable.
There are also few things more neighbourly than helping a friend in need. That’s why Canadian and American utilities participate in mutual assistance, not hesitating to help each other restore power in the aftermath of major storms or disasters. For example, Canadian electricity companies sent hundreds of skilled workers to assist with power restoration efforts following Hurricane Irma, Nor’ Easters and recent wildfires in the U.S.
So, what’s next for the Canada-U.S. electricity relationship? The transformational challenges and opportunities facing the electricity industry in both countries are borderless – from harnessing rapid advancements in technologies, to meeting new customer demands, to protecting the grid in the face of evolving cyber threats and more severe storms. This means that no one nation will be able to go it alone.
Thanks to the tradition of electricity cooperation between Canada and the U.S., we are well placed to tackle challenges and embrace opportunities together. Together, we can continue to promote energy security and affordability; strengthen energy infrastructure protections; and make North America the world’s leading energy region – all while keeping the customer top of mind. Some opportunities include:
- Connecting existing R&D efforts and provide a framework for new joint initiatives;
- Protecting electricity infrastructure from cyber and physical threats;
- Developing a 21st century workforce;
- Reducing regulatory red tape;
- Ensuring secure, reliable, affordable energy for all citizens; and,
- Establishing a framework for ongoing consultation and dialogue between governments, supported by business-sector participation.
The moral of this holiday tale is that the Canada-U.S. relationship serves as an international model for the cooperative planning and operation of a vast electricity system that is not only reliable for today, and but also for future generations to come. This holiday season let’s give thanks for the gift that is the Canada-U.S. electricity relationship!