CERDAFIED-The United States, Canada and Mexico has just finished simulating an electrical grid failure as part of a joint drill conducted by thousands of utility workers as well as FBI agents, governmental agencies, anti-terrorism experts, and private businesses in the power grid drill held on Wednesday and Thursday (Nov 13 & 14).
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issued their power grid grade card of our antiquated electrical system as it approaches the end of its service life. Barely passing with a D+ means there is strong likelihood that the system will fail. Major power outages have increased from 76 in 2007 to 307 in 2011. These figures do not include storm related outages.
The vulnerability of our power grid due to solar flares or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is getting new attention. Our system of interconnected power generation, transmission facilities, and distribution facilities are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than ever before. It would cost $3.6 trillion to fix everything, and would not be completed until 2020.
Smart grid systems make the power grid more accessible to cyber hackers so the upgrade can increase the risk. Electric car charging stations are essentially an accessible computer that cyber hackers can access the power grid. Right now, America has relatively few electric car charging stations, but we will be seeing a significant increase in government and privately funded vehicle charging station projects.
The SHIELD Act is newly proposed federal legislation which was recently referred to the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. “It amends the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system and electric infrastructure critical to the defense and well-being of the United States against natural and manmade electromagnetic pulse ("EMP") threats and vulnerabilities.” Click here for pdf. The SHIELD Act does not address cyber-security threats, but a separate bill is likely to follow which will address that issue as well.
It is estimated that a long term failure of the power grid would likely be so catastrophic to society that casualties would be in excess of 60% of the population, according to the Chairman of the EMP Commission. With the grid vulnerable to solar flares, cyber attacks, EMP’s and weather related events it is important that we have supplies in stock to reduce the waiting time for overseas shipments and manufacturing delays. Currently we lack the inventory.
When, not if, the power grid fails, not only will the citizens of the U.S.A. be at risk of interrupted supplies of water, fresh food, fuel and the shut down of communications, but our very own military will suffer the same affects. Civil unrest would inevitably overwhelm the police department’s ability to respond.
(Lisa Cerda is a contributor to CityWatch, a community activist, Chair of Tarzana Residents Against Poorly Planned Development, VP of Community Rights Foundation of LA, Tarzana Property Owners Association board member, and former Tarzana Neighborhood Council board member.)
Vol 11 Issue 92
Pub: Nov 15, 2013