Just How Vulnerable is America’s Power Grid?
That’s not the easiest question to answer. The American grid is really a patchwork of smaller systems and subsystems. That’s both good and bad – good in that a failure in the one won’t necessarily bring down the rest; bad in that the whole thing is rather … antiquated.
Noah and Preparedness Advice site ask about and explore the vulnerability of America’s power grid. In especial Noah looks into the threats to the system, in particular from an EMP. Please check out that original, thought-provoking work.
Photo by Forbes.
An EMP from a nuclear detonation in the atmosphere could do considerable damage to the grid. North Korea and Kim Jong-Un have been in the news (a lot!) lately regarding that country’s nuclear program.
Of course, a nuclear strike nearer the ground (on a city) could wreak havoc on part of the grid.
Kim Jong-Un isn’t technically alone in his capabilities here. North Korea has joined Russia, China, France, and Great Britain in the club of countries that could (could) affect a nuclear strike on the U.S. (Israel, India, and Pakistan have the weapons but “ify” delivery systems).
The good news is that none of these countries will likely ever launch against the US – the threat of reprisal being way too great.
There are, however, other threats.
Every year we see, in one part of the country or another, that it only takes a tree limb to close down part of the system. That, or an air-conditioner-fueled overload.
Natural and usage problems are one vulnerability. Solar flares are another (very similar to EMP, without the politics or warfare). Then there are: natural disasters; terror attacks; and other possibilities.
Noah explains the American power system in very good detail:
“America has 3 separate power grids, the Eastern grid, the Western grid, and the Texas grid, which is owned by Texas. These 3 networks are not connected with each other. Therefore, if one should go down, it cannot get energy from the other two.”
It starts with the power plants. Raw electricity is filtered through enormous transformers and sent down overland via power lines. The lines end at your locality and smaller transformer stations. Local lines bring the juice to your house. In a way it’s simple; in a way it’s complex. And there is room for error (or attack) at each step of the way).
Noah spends considerable time on two disturbing systemic features.
First, many of the components cannot be rapidly or readily rebuilt – the transformers, for instance. Second, there seems little interest from either the government or the utility companies to upgrade or harden the networks.
He also notes that all of this is run by humans and that we do, sometimes, makes mistakes.
His final estimation: “This emphasizes the need of every household in the country to go full-on YOYO, You’re On Your Own.”
This means to continue preparing for any and all events and probabilities. That original (click the link) has a reading list of related basic prepping ideas.
The possible vulnerability is alarming. At the same time, we’ve had the same system in place for decades with relatively few problems. You and I can’t fix all those issues. The best we can do is refuse to live in fear of blackouts and to take actions to safeguard “our own.”
Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at www.perrinlovett.me. He is none too fond of government meddling.