Skip to comments.Government Agency: If 9 Substations Are Destroyed, The Power Grid Could Be Down For 18 Months
Posted on 04/08/2014 1:24:58 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year? Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine. These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly. But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye? According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day. The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations. If terrorists, or saboteurs, or special operations forces wanted to take down our power grid, it would not be very difficult. And as you will read about later in this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
When I read the following statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's latest report, I was absolutely floored...
"Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer."
What would you do without power for 18 months?
FERC studied what it would take to collapse the entire electrical grid from coast to coast. What they found was quite unsettling...
In its modeling, FERC studied what would happen if various combinations of substations were crippled in the three electrical systems that serve the contiguous U.S. The agency concluded the systems could go dark if as few as nine locations were knocked out: four in the East, three in the West and two in Texas, people with knowledge of the analysis said.
The actual number of locations that would have to be knocked out to spawn a massive blackout would vary depending on available generation resources, energy demand, which is highest on hot days, and other factors, experts said. Because it is difficult to build new transmission routes, existing big substations are becoming more crucial to handling electricity.
So what would life look like without any power for a long period of time? The following list comes from one of my previous articles...
-There would be no heat for your home.
-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
-Your computer would not work.
-There would be no Internet.
-Your phones would not work.
-There would be no television.
-There would be no radio.
-ATM machines would be shut down.
-There would be no banking.
-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
-Without electricity, gas stations would not be functioning.
-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
-Hospitals would not be able to function.
-You would quickly start running out of medicine.
-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.
If you want to get an idea of how quickly society would descend into chaos, just watch the documentary "American Blackout" some time. It will chill you to your bones.
The truth is that we live in an unprecedented time. We have become extremely dependent on technology, and that technology could be stripped away from us in an instant.
Right now, our power grid is exceedingly vulnerable, and all the experts know this, but very little is being done to actually protect it...
"The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive," said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. "That's got to be the focus going forward."
If a group of agents working for a foreign government or a terrorist organization wanted to bring us to our knees, they could do it.
In fact, there have actually been recent attacks on some of our power stations. Here is just one example
The Wall Street Journals Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.
The attack was the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.
Have you heard about that attack before now?
Most Americans have not.
But it should have been big news.
At the scene, authorities found "more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings", and little piles of rocks "that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots."
So what happens someday when the bad guys decide to conduct a coordinated attack against our power grid with heavy weapons?
It could happen.
In addition, as I mentioned at the top of this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
For example, did you know that authorities are so freaked out about the security of the Internet that they have given "the keys to the Internet" to a very small group of individuals that meet four times per year?
It's true. The following is from a recent story posted by the Guardian...
The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn't easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions. They were chosen for their geographical spread as well as their experience no one country is allowed to have too many keyholders. They travel to the ceremony at their own, or their employer's, expense.
What these men and women control is the system at the heart of the web: the domain name system, or DNS. This is the internet's version of a telephone directory a series of registers linking web addresses to a series of numbers, called IP addresses. Without these addresses, you would need to know a long sequence of numbers for every site you wanted to visit. To get to the Guardian, for instance, you'd have to enter "220.127.116.11" instead of theguardian.com.
If the system that controls those IP addresses gets hijacked or damaged, we would definitely need someone to press the "reset button" on the Internet.
Sadly, the hackers always seem to be several steps ahead of the authorities. In fact, according to one recent report, breaches of U.S. government computer networks go undetected 40 percent of the time
A new report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) details widespread cybersecurity breaches in the federal government, despite billions in spending to secure the nations most sensitive information.
The report, released on Tuesday, found that approximately 40 percent of breaches go undetected, and highlighted serious vulnerabilities in the governments efforts to protect its own civilian computers and networks.
In the past few years, we have seen significant breaches in cybersecurity which could affect critical U.S. infrastructure, the report said. Data on the nations weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers.
And things are not much better when it comes to cybersecurity in the private sector either. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against businesses in the United States last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, our major banks are being hit with cyberattacks "every minute of every day"...
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent hacktivism, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled "Big Banks Are Being Hit With Cyberattacks 'Every Minute Of Every Day'".
Up until now, attacks on our infrastructure have not caused any significant interruptions in our lifestyles.
But at some point that will change.
Are you prepared for that to happen?
We live at a time when our world is becoming increasingly unstable. In the years ahead it is quite likely that we will see massive economic problems, major natural disasters, serious terror attacks and war. Any one of those could cause substantial disruptions in the way that we live.
At this point, even NASA is warning that "civilization could collapse"...
A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."
So let us hope for the best.
But let us also prepare for the worst.
Sounds like a job for the ELF.
I think a lot of people think that 18 months means that the crops would be harvested and trucked to the supermarkets, refineries running, the auto repair shops supplied and open again, etc, immediately after the 18 months, but I don’t think it works that way.
I wonder how long it would be before we could get food and medicine and gasoline, and jobs, and money, again?
My guess is there wouldn’t be a need for AS MUCH food after 18 months.
Did they print maps for the terrorists to use or do they have to find them on their own?
Prepare accordingly, my friends.
We’re about to sell our home. If we really want a contract, we’re likely going to take a $20 K loss, which, I don’t like but can actually survive. I know I need to do it, because we need to begin to find a place that is more remote with a generator and a wood stove, and we need the extra money to start stockpiling.
I really feel the time is getting nearer. We live in a place that functions well with power, but would become a zombie nightmare if the grid went down. I want out.
But...but...Obama old us about all those "infrastructure" and "shovel ready" jobs he had $Billions for.....
It's not too hard to see why NASA's capability is where it's at these days...
Duhhhhh...and this is made public knowledge, because?!?
Please send instructions and directrons to all the stations and time of operations please,thank you
A generator? What is going to power your generator?
Good question. The answer would depend on how long the grid was out and when the outage occurred.
A three month outage over a winter in the north or a summer outage anywhere would be a disaster. No heat in the winter because forced air furnaces do not work without electricity running the fan. Fuel oil will not get delivered. So, expect a lot of deaths from freezing or heat.
A far greater threat would come from a lack of food. Urban groceries have a three day supply of food and even Walmart's logistics would not allow them to supply all their stores in a total power outage. Water and sewer plants would also have a tough time without electricity.
So, a general, widespread, extended power outage would result in millions of deaths in urban areas. I haven't given that ultimate number a lot of thought but a 50-95% death rate doesn't seem unreasonable.
If you can survive the first three months, you might be okay. As the systems came back on line there would be far fewer mouths to feed, especially in the urban areas.
This is amazing. All you have to do is read how the Northeast grid was brought up after the blackout to understand that this is malarkey.
We’d be better served to understand what would happen after another Carrington level event. BTW, there are more than one manufacturer of transformers in this country. What confused the writer is that, AFAIK, there may be only one manufacturer in North America of the really large transformers used to connect generators at power plants to the switch yards which in turn connect to the grid.
That’s why a Carrington level event would be catastrophic. In that case 18 months might be highly optimistic for many people.
And even if the interconnecting function is removed, the separate grids will be able to take and distribute power, again, within capacity constraints.
I've seen this three day supply of food mentioned in several articles and have wondered about the source.
Anyone who has paid attention to to the news in times of natural disasters and/or civil unrest has watched video footage and has seen mobs strip these stores clean in a matter of an hour or two, leaving empty shells of buildings with broken glass and broken doors. A full out power outage and these stores are out for the duration. Doubtful that they would ever be restored even after a power recovery as the demographics of the areas served would have been drastically altered.
Having lived in Manhattan for several decades I can attest to the general paucity of suburban type supermarkets. Small mom and pop grocery stores are the rule. But the real weak point is that most urbanites rely on local restaurants and take out places for most of their meals. With non-functioning cold boxes they're out of action in 24 hours.
Granted, trying to understand ISO's, RTO's and the various aspects of the electric power industry is tough, if one is going to write about it, I would hope they would read and learn about it first.
And, I am NOT saying, by any stretch, the grid is immune from hackers, sabotage or terrorist activities. But, does anyone know where they get their power from?
Baby, it’s cold outside,,,
Not long after that, a tornado completely destroyed a tire plant that produced 30 percent of the tire production capacity of the company I worked for. It's not easy to find production capacity of specific sizes of tires for millions of tires per year. Friends of mine were responsible for this. It took them a whole week to find alternative sources. No auto production plant was even shut down. They did work very hard that week.
I vote for weeks, not years, to deal with "destroyed" substations. There are alternatives other than sitting around for two years waiting for China to build transformers.
Urban "groceries" of all stripes would be stripped of food in a matter of hours.
I would not want to live near a large urban area that was without power for months or even weeks.
A wood gas generator can run a generator, if you know how to build and operate it.
FEMA even had a brochure on how to build them, once upon a time.
I've actually built and used one, so I know how to make it work.
Taking out nine substations doesn’t take out electrical production capacity. It makes it more difficult to equalize generators with users. It could lead to rolling blackouts, brownouts, manual equalization efforts, and things like that. A complete shutdown of all electrical generation in the US for a year and a half simply wouldn’t happen. These stories are fear mongering, not legitimate disaster planning.
Good job. Keep publishing these things til the muslims figure it out!
And we wonder why they bad things happen here...
Well, that’s what the conspiracy theory is.
Hat tip to Whenifhow for the heads up!
You wouldn’t need to take out all 9 to bring the country to it’s knees.
Just take out 1 or 2 in the most populated areas and 10’s of millions of people would flee to the unaffected areas.
There is no way the unaffected areas could absorb that massive number of people.
The unaffected areas would have to be placed under martial law to handle it.
This was the Russians idea during the Cuban missile crisis.
It will take longer than that. Power lines will need to be replaced [from the riots that occurred] in addition to all of the carnage from the aftermath of this event. I am willing to bet it would take years to repair, including our society.
Bump for later
In his defense, he's riffing off a government agency's contention. I get a sense the government agency is attempting to justify the use of "more government" to resolve a problem that doesn't exist, in fact. But, if the problem is made to sound scary enough, the people will be stampeded into demanding action/help.
“Duhhhhh...and this is made public knowledge, because?!?”
There is absolutely nothing secret about it and people need to know in order to prepare for the possibility.
Thanks for the good news.
Very valid point.
The “national” grid needs to be configured so that there are AC-DC-AC boundaries with trip-trigger at the state boundaries for any power line that crosses the state line.
In the event of a massive power surge, this will work to isolate the pulse to state boundaries.
I pray that this happens. We could use a good urban-culling.
The status quo is unsustainable.
It would probably be a good thing for the country in some ways. Some of the dead weight would be removed from the gene pool, elections would be quite different without the celebrity candidates’ ability to manipulate the media and the Internet, people wouldn’t waste all their time with computers and TV and instead might have to learn to farm or something useful.
Perhaps it's a matter of semantics but the mom and pop stores I referred to offered a relatively full range of veggies, limited cuts of meat,eggs, milk, butter and bread as well as packaged goods. Called them mom and pop as they are family owned and not chain stores. Pretty much the grocery store type I grew up with before the advent of the Supermarket.
Green grocers, bakeries, butcher shops, and super deli's such as Zabar's or Dean and DeLuca augment the small grocery stores. But the key thing is very, very few urbanites have more than 2 days of food in their apartments, just not enough room for large fridges or pantries.
And, once again, I agree.
I met a man who worked for the Department of Defense for many years and one of his areas of expertise was knowing how a solar flare or EMP attack could/would destroy our electronic systems in our major weapons and protecting them from those. The man said regarding the country’s electrical system the huge transformers going out could not be replaced for a very long time, many months. Yes, the country would be down for a very long time.
Is it true that we no longer manufacture large transformers in the USA, and import ALL large generators such as go into dam power output?
Here is the government report on Large Power Transformers (LPT). It gives the cost which will astound you, plus tell how long it takes to get one and tell you we are trying to start making them ourselves. Read page 6 and 7 for sure.
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