THE MAGAZINE

Lights Out: The Electricity Crisis, the Global Economy, and What It Means to You

By Jason Makansi; Reviewed by Ross Johnson, CPP

***** Lights Out: The Electricity Crisis, the Global Economy, and What It Means to You. By Jason Makansi; published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc., www.wiley.com (Web); 306 pages; $27.95.

On August 14, 2003, a blackout struck the northeastern United States and Ontario, Canada. Nearly 50 million people lost power, at a combined cost of more than $6 billion to the two countries’ economies. More than anything, the blackout served as a jarring reminder of society’s dependence on the uninterrupted flow of electricity and how fragile the electrical grid that provides it had become.

Lights Out explains how electricity gets from the power plant to the consumer, and all the persistent problems with North America’s electrical infrastructure.

In the first part of the book, author Jason Makansi provides a primer on how energy is created from raw materials and how it is delivered to your home or business. Next, Makansi argues that the current distribution and transmission systems cannot satisfy the demands of the future. Third, he offers solutions for improving the problems identified earlier in the book. 

Makansi knows the subject matter. He has worked in the power industry at several levels: in the power plant, as a consultant, as a leader in industry and engineering organizations, and outside as a journalist.

Lights Out is a refreshingly clear-eyed view of a vital industry that has been taken for granted for too long. It is well-written, free of jargon, and an interesting read. While it is not a security book, security professionals new to the electrical sector and those working in industries that have a strong dependence on electrical supply will find useful background material in this book.


Reviewer: Ross Johnson, CPP, is manager of security for EPCOR Utilities Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a member of the ASIS Oil, Gas, and Chemical Industry Security Council.

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