"We're the world's greatest superpower, but we have a Third World electricity grid," said Richardson, governor of New Mexico.⋅ ABC News ⋅
The canadian premiere, of course, said it was a lightning hitting a power station on the "New York side of the Canadian-American border", something like that.
However, ABC News reports the authorities are not yet sure about the cause.
There was some confusion over the possible cause of the outage. In the early hours of the blackout, New York City's mayor said it was caused by a disturbance that started in either southern Canada or northern New York and that cascaded as far east as Connecticut, as far west as Ohio and as far south as New Jersey.More on this in a separate article [ABC news]. In addition, it seems the software and hardware safety system did not work as it was supposed to and failed to prevent the ripple effect.
Canadian officials at first blamed the blackout on a lightning strike at a Niagara, N.Y., power plant. However, Niagara power plant officials denied there was any lightning strike or fire there.
Later, Canadian National Defense Minister John McCallum said his advisers believed the outage may have been caused by blackout at a power plant in Pennsylvania. However, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Jack Ramsey dismissed that theory, saying all power plants in Pennsylvania were working fine before the outage.
At a news conference that followed, Mayor Bloomberg said Canadian officials told him that lightning struck a power plant in Quebec and that the blackouts were triggered when Canada tried to pull power from grids in the United States.
Good news: air traffic control, many (why not all?) hospitals, financial institutions were operating on backup power, smoothly.
Good news: very little looting reported, so far (some in Detroit, I believe).
Total about 50 million people were affected.
Sources: [ABC News ⋅ ABC News ⋅ ABC News]