America’s Power Grid: Vulnerable or Not?

The current threat posed by North Korea can be debated back and forth, but one thing we know for certain is that the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un, has weapons capable of of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack. This thought is terrifying and we citizens have no way of knowing how far those capabilities go and whether or not we might live in a targeted area.

Not very comforting, and I tend toward paranoia in the best of times. A war here on American soil is a terrifying thought.

Dictators are more interested in self-preservation than anything else, and, perhaps, that’s the one thought that gives me a bit of comfort. All the same, America’s power grids are not all that secure and definitely not hardened against this type of attack.

America’s power grids

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.

These grids connect power generating plants with giant transformers that, once installed, weigh over 800,000 pounds. From these primary transformers, power is transmitted along high voltage lines that connect with smaller transformers and substations, which ultimately bring power to homes, businesses, and industries.

As impressive as our generating stations are and as complex as the system is, there are numerous weaknesses that make it vulnerable to an EMP, as well as sabotage, cyberterrorism, and a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME).

The giant transformers that collect the initial power generated would be rendered inoperable by an EMP. These transformers are not built in the United States. Our country no longer has the forging equipment to make something that large. It generally takes a couple of years to build transformers this size, and that’s assuming current infrastructure is in place and functioning. In a big enough crisis, it might be possible for a power station to procure one of these giant transformers more quickly, but that isn’t something anyone should count on.

Even though many power plants have backup transformers, these, too, could be disabled by an EMP unless they are protected in some way.

Another weakness in our power grid system is the reliance on backup generators for the continued operation of our power plants. The concept is great and will work during a typical catastrophe, such as a hurricane, earthquake or short-term blackout. However, the pulse generated by an EMP will affect most of the systems that keep these plants running, and that will most likely include the backup generators. Even if some of the generators remain in working order, they will still need an indefinite supply of fuel to maintain a level of energy production, and the production and transportation of that fuel will be just as affected by EMP than the generators themselves.

Finally, there is the human element. The people who run these power plants also have children and loved ones that they will want to protect and provide for in the event of a catastrophic event. In fact, they, more than most of us, will quickly realize the implications of the power grid failure. It’s unreasonable to expect them to continue on their jobs, against all odds and in constant danger, in order to make Herculean efforts to restore power – if that would even be possible. Without the necessary staff on hand, the plant cannot continue to operate.

Why no protection against EMP?

A number of years ago I spent some time with a relative who had worked on a task force as a police officer in a large city. He was aware of the vulnerability of the 2 large, local power plants but said, “The people who run these plants know about EMP and other threats but don’t care to spend the money in order to harden their systems.”

Why doesn’t that surprise me? Congress hasn’t shown much interest, either. Two Congressional EMP reports are almost a decade old, and yet, nothing has been done to protect the power grids the entire country relies on. (Do take some time to read this report — it’s more readable than most other government documents.) As recently as 2015, members of Congress have been informed of the threat but with no action.

This emphasizes the need of every household in the country to go full-on YOYO, You’re On Your Own. It’s pointless to sit and wait while those in power dilly, dally, and collect contributions to their so-called War Chests before making the decision to discuss an issue. With Kim Jong-Un at the helm of a rogue country with nuclear weapons and 25% of the population participating in his military. We can laugh at the rotund dictator, but with his pudgy finger near the nuclear green-light button, it doesn’t pay to ignore the menace.

Wondering what to do first to prepare? These articles are a good starting point:

 

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16 Responses to America’s Power Grid: Vulnerable or Not?

  1. Hondo says:

    From the heart, I want to thank you for writing an article that explains the power grid in simple easy to understand rhetoric: Short and to the point. I’ve read dozens of other articles and was more confused than when I began reading. With 800,000 pound transformers at the core of the system and no way to manufacture them in the US then it becomes glaringly clear that if these behemoths go down they will never come up again. How would they be delivered to our ports, transportet on the highways when they arrive, or be assembled at the power stations? In closing, I love the YOYO: That makes it crystal clear what has to be done. Get tough, smart, and resilient. Christ bless, thanks.

  2. Shootit says:

    What about all the Private, Coop, Public Power companies? I know of 3 different one’s within 50 miles of my house all generating their own power for their ‘grid’. One is a Coop, one is owned by the city, and the other is public. There are many more than 3 grids and or generation locations.

    A EMP is nothing more or less than a giant Radio Station that broadcasts for a split second. The energy has to build up over long runs of a conductor through induction for your Radio to receive it. If you are not connected to that ‘antenna’ it should have little or no effect. There are hundreds of factors that will effect what is or isn’t damaged by an EMP. You would have to run the numbers based on every location in relation to the EMP and the EMP’s specifications. As far as your 800,000 pound transformers I bet they survive. They are fused(antenna disconnects) multiple times from the outside world and would need to take a direct hit from an EMP for many reasons to destroy it.

    Have a great week…

    • Moe says:

      You are very fortunate that you live in an area with multiple companies producing their own electricity. Unfortunately, I live in an area now reliant on the grid. The city no longer can produce its own power. Since this change occurred, we have had regular power outages. Some of us already understand the potential for problems.

      As I said before you are lucky, but not everyone is in the same lifeboat.

    • rescuebuf says:

      These different power companies still have their lines connected in the same grid. You could even be getting power from a plant owned by a company other than the one that is your power company.

      • Noah says:

        Exactly. When power is produced it is bought and sold like any commodity. Just because you live near a power plant doesn’t mean your power necessarily comes from it. Shootit doesn’t have a good understanding of the power grid system.

      • Shootit says:

        Potentially. Power Companies buy and sell to each other based on many economic factors. Some are not connected to the larger “grid”. You would need to do your own research of your current supplier. I know we are the last customer on their grid. If there is an outage on our leg we are the last to be restored.

    • Noah says:

      They do not have separate grids. I’m afraid you are misinformed about that. The power you actually use could be coming from a plant hundreds of miles away. Energy is bought and sold like any commodity. Just because you live near a large wheat farm doesn’t mean the bread you buy at the store used that wheat.

      • Shootit says:

        Look up Harlan, IA. The town has their own power plant. They are not dependent on any other ‘grid’ to power their town. Could they connect to the ‘grid’ and buy/sell? I would assume that they can buy/sell for many reasons.

        A EMP will have to be quantified before you can make the assumption that it will cause the entire grid to fail. Transformers are robust and would need to take a direct hit. Your delicate silicon chips and transistors aka computers that control the grid would be the first to fail.

        I pity those that worship their phone, tv, internet or navigate using GPS. Those things plus satellites will be toast long before you loose power.

        • Noah says:

          I was interested in how the Harlan, IA plant is different from other, similar plants and found this on their site: “Most of our electricity comes from the Federally managed Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) hydro-electric generators on the Missouri River in South Dakota. HMU owns 5.6 MW of power produced by the Louisa Generating Station (LGS) in Muscatine, Iowa. This power is available for HMU customers, as needed, or we can sell it on the open market to other communities. HMU also owns two on site diesel generators for use on hot days when the demand for electricity is high.” Yes, the plant is connected to the grid. A “free standing” power plant doesn’t exist.

          • Shootit says:

            “Vulnerable or Not?” is the question. The answer is not yes or no. Because your smaller grid is tied to a larger grid doesn’t mean it will fail if there is a EMP. As I said earlier you would have to run the numbers at each location in relationship to the EMP. It’s not a one answer fits all.

            I would be more worried about Soros and his Brown Shirts(Democrats, National Socialists, BLM, Anti-Fata, etc.) destroying the US. Soros is pushing Satan’s agenda.

          • Noah says:

            You’re right on a lot of points, Shootit. Thanks for being here.

        • Noah says:

          Your comment about reliance on electronics is well taken and absolutely the truth.

          • Shootit says:

            Stay positive and do the little things. Unplugging electronics will go a long way to protecting them. Get a manual alternative(hand saw, can opener, etc.) to your electric stuff. Fix up that old bike in the shed and and get a few spare parts. Don’t have a bike hit a garage sale. Lots of bikes for under $20. I can’t believe all the cool survival stuff people sell at garage sales. Learn to build a rocket stove from used bricks. Have a way to collect rain water from you roof. You will be surprised how little $$$ it takes to protect yourself and family.

  3. TPSnodgrass says:

    Since the majority of our transformer “replacements”, now come from China, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see us get hit by an EMP from the NORKS, and, our PRC trading partners then could dictate THIER terms for the replacements to getting our grid operational. Why the idiots in Congress and the US Senate can’t grasp this is beyond the pale of sheer stupidity.

  4. WhereEaglesDare says:

    I don’t know that we will really know the full nature of an EMP until it happens. I believe there is information that has been put out for the public to read and feel like there isn’t any real threat.

    • Noah says:

      There are way too many variables. You’re right. For example, prepper novels usually depict all vehicles as being disabled by EMP, except for those that are quite old. In fact, the EMP tests that we know of, show that this isn’t going to be the case. Also, small electronics may not be affected. Sometimes I think prepper fiction is too heavy on “fiction”.

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