Large blackouts, such as the Aug. 14-15, 2003, blackout in the northeastern United States and Canada, focus attention on the importance of reliable electric service. As public and private efforts are undertaken to improve reliability and prevent power interruptions, it is appropriate to assess their effectiveness. Measures of reliability, such as the frequency and duration of power interruptions, have been reported by electric utilities to state public utility commissions for many years.

This study examines current state and utility practices for collecting and reporting electricity reliability information and discusses challenges that arise in assessing reliability because of differences among these practices. The study is based primarily on reliability information for 2006 reported by 123 utilities to 37 state public utility commissions....