- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton endorsed the idea of integrating the U.S. power grid with those of its neighbors in the third presidential debate on Oct. 19.
- In response to a question regarding a leaked transcript of the Democratic candidate calling for a "hemispheric market," Clinton replied that she was "talking about energy" and that she wants the U.S. "to have an electric grid, an energy system that crosses borders."
- The answer was the only significant mention of energy or environmental policy throughout the third debate. Climate change was mentioned just once, in one of Clinton's responses to an economic growth question.
Energy and environmental policy barely featured in the final presidential debate, but when moderator Chris Wallace brought up a Clinton campaign email released by Wikileaks, the Democratic nominee gave the power sector something to chew on.
Wallace brought up a leaked transcript of a 2013 speech Clinton gave to a Brazilian bank in which she called for a "hemispheric common market." The clip has caught on among her critics, who say its an example of a globalist economic agenda.
Clinton said the clip has been taken out of context and that she was really referring to trading energy with neighboring countries.
"If you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy," she said. "We trade more energy with our neighbors than we do with the rest of the world combined, and I do want us to have an electric grid, an energy system that crosses borders. I think that would be of great benefit to us."
The leaked portion of Clinton's 2013 speech includes more general language about energy trading than her answer on Wednesday night, though the entire speech has not been released and the campaign has not verified the authenticity of any Wikileaks releases.
"My dream is a hemispheric common market," Clinton said, according to the leak, "with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere."
There are, in fact, already efforts underway to more closely integrate the electric power systems of the U.S., Mexico and Canada. This week, Mexico's grid operator announced it is considering linking Baja California Norte with the California ISO's growing Energy Imbalance Market. That could lay the groundwork for a regional common market if CAISO's efforts to expand the EIM into a fully-fledged ISO market continue.
The three North American neighbors are already linked by a clean energy commitment — the so-called Three Amigos Pact. This June, the heads of state for each nation signed an accord that aims for a 50% clean energy mix across the three nations by 2025.
EIA projects that renewable and nuclear power will comprise 45% of North American electricity generation in 2025, but that number could rise if integration efforts accelerate under the next president. If current election trends continue, that seems plausible. Clinton is polling well ahead of GOP nominee Donald Trump with less than a month to the election, and she appears poised to continue President Obama's climate and energy policies if she wins the presidency.