The Possibility of a U.S. Grid Blackout

Perhaps I should have said “Probability” or “Eventuality”. The U.S. power grid is in terrible shape. It’s vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

“an attack last year on a Pacific Gas & Electric substation near San Jose has heightened concern about security. Using simple assault rifles, two attackers caused millions of dollars in damage and almost knocked out power to Silicon Valley. Nearly a year later, the FBI has yet to make any arrests.” (LA Times)

Two guys with ARs caused significant damage to the grid that feeds Silicon Valley with one simple attack. More worrying is the vulnerability of the national grid to a larger coordinated attack:

“Nerves were further rattled when the Wall Street Journal reported on a confidential report circulated at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that said attackers would need to knock out just nine electricity substations — the newspaper did not reveal which ones — to trigger a nationwide blackout.” (LA Times)

The Wall Street Journal article also said that if those 9 substations were knocked out, it would take up to 18 months for the nation to completely recover from the blackout. Think about that for a moment. Superstorm Sandy knocked out power for a couple of weeks. This disrupted transportation, since gas stations need power. It disrupted food distribution, since grocery stores need electricity for coolers, freezers, lights, and cash registers. Water distribution requires pumps that run on electricity. And in winter, no power means that many persons would be in danger of freezing to death. Many modern houses in colder parts of the nation have no fireplaces. So up to 18 months without power means that many persons would die, they would lack water, food, and warmth.

How can we prepare? Here are my brief suggestions:

* food storage
* gardening supplies and seeds
* water purification equipment
* winter sleeping bags (rated sub-20 degrees or better)
* indoor tent for additional warmth
* modern wood stove for heat and cooking
* firearms to defend your home and family (people will be desperate)

– Thoreau

3 Responses to The Possibility of a U.S. Grid Blackout

  1. Short but very informative article. Each of your bullet points deserves an article itself. 18 mos w/o power could mean a fatality rate of 25%….that ranslates into 75 million deaths! I know i would not last 18 mos at my age and poor health. But thats OK too since i got right with Jesus 24 yrs ago. Remember….NOBODY gets out of this world alive!

    (except Enoch and Elijah) :)

  2. This claims of a nationwide electrical outage are over stated. What will happen is that the regional electrical grids will no longer be interconnected and able to transfer electricity between them. The regional grids will come back up quickly. What will happen is that grids like California that use more electricity than they produce will possibly face brown outs and localized shortages while energy producing areas will not feel the same pain.

  3. The power grid isn’t in terrible shape n spite of criticisms and gand and expensive plans to alter it. But none of this relates to the issue of terrorism. The simple fact is that there is nothing we could do to sufficiently “harden” the grid to make it safe from terrorists. If terrorists today want to shut down part of the grid they can. If we spend a few trillion dollars to make improvements and hardne the system it won’t change that simple fact.