The North American electric power system was developed over the last 100 years without a conscious awareness and analysis of the system-wide implications of its current evolution under the forces of deregulation, system complexity, power-market impacts, terrorism, and human error. The possibility of power delivery beyond neighboring areas was a distant secondary consideration. Today, the North American power network may realistically be considered to be the largest machine in the world. With the advent of deregulation and competition in the electric power industry, new ways are being sought to improve the efficiency of that network without seriously diminishing its reliability and security. Controlling a heterogeneous, widely dispersed, yet globally interconnected system is a serious technological problem in any case. It is even more complex and difficult to control it for optimal efficiency and maximum benefit to the ultimate consumers while still allowing all its business components to compete fairly and freely. In this paper we present an overview of key issues and the context in which the electricity infrastructure is being operated under the above forces along with a strategic vision extending to a decade, or longer, that would enable more secure and robust systems operation, security monitoring, and efficient energy markets.