This is a follow-up to a previous article I wrote on Grid Ex II, the hypothetical testing of the American Electrical System between November 13th and 15th. Some in the community went into a near panic thinking that the government was going to use the opportunity to literally shut-off the electrical systems of America in a bid for more authority and oversight while utilizing foreign troops from China or Russia in some Red Dawn-esk takeover by the United Nations. (Hodges 2013) However, most of Americans were hardly aware of the exercise, let alone the legitimate issues it was examining. Fact of the matter, and just what the conclusions of the test identified, was that America’s electrical grid is woefully underprepared to handle a catastrophic cyber terrorist attack or mass electromagnetic disruption.
In the test’s results by the governing The North American Electric Power Reliability Corporation, or NERC, found much of what Matthew Weld wrote in his Nov. 14 New York Times article (mentioned in previous thread) said would put tens of millions of Americans in darkness, with hundreds of transmission lines and transformers declared damaged or destroyed and “the engineers … rushing to assess computers that were, for the purposes of the drill, tearing their system apart.” The NERC website outlined the parameters of the testing, and just how much the system would be stressed. (NERC 2013) According to the results only 150 citizens “died” during the blackout period, however given the capacity of human nature to panic this number is highly unlikely if a nation-wide electrical outage were to occur – even on a rapid pace and not the instantaneous impact as the test was considering. In addition, the test only focused on the power system within the first 48 hours of the attack/disaster when most of the casualties would begin to occur after 72 hours when the nation’s “on demand” store supplies would run out and issues of food would become critical. (Dodrill 2013) Henry Cooper, director of the Strategic Defense Initiative under President George H. W. Bush told World Net Daily:
The electric power lobby has managed to block passage of these bills, now proposed in the third Congress in a row. … Such activities as NERC’s Grid Ex II exercise are academically interesting, but actually do little to deal with this serious threat, now well known for over a decade, including by our enemies and terrorists. Even the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the American electrical grid a grade of D+ earlier this year in similar evaluations.
With over 5,800 power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the US, many of which are decades old and a large portion interconnected, the D+ grade meant that the grid was in “poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life.” and a “large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration” with a “strong risk of failure”. The report concluded by stating, “America relies on an aging electrical grid and pipeline distribution systems, some of which originated in the 1880s”. (Dodrill 2013) Perhaps the only bright spot in this was congressmen Trent Franks (R-AZ) wrote a formal letter chastising NERC for grossly under-representing the threat of a mass blackout scenario writing:
The blackout possibilities represents a catastrophic threat to the United States of widespread power loss for potentially months or years that could result in American society tearing itself apart and a horrific loss of human life. (Franks 2013)
In the end the only groups that who truly got the concept of Grid Ex II wrong were the ones banking on it to serve as a switch to push people more into their cause of government conspiracies and paranoia. While it’s not overly discussed in mainstream media about just how poorly the American Electrical Grid really is, it’s not exactly science that for the most part America is completely dependent on its ability to produce and use cheap, reliable energy. If that were to become disrupted at a large-scale, the implications both socially and economically would be disastrous – both in the immediate disaster response and over the long-term. The snap reaction of the government would potentially be just as destructive, as it would be required to step in to re-establish order and control. More worrisome is that there would be many in America that would be demanding the government do anything to re-establish the flow of electricity, even at the cost of their freedoms.
Dodrill, Tara. “Power Grid Down Drill Results: Tens Of Millions Would Be Without Power For Weeks If System Attacked.” Off the Grid News. November 22, 2013. http://www.offthegridnews.com/2013/11/22/power-grid-down-results-tens-of-millions-would-be-without-power-for-weeks-if-system-attacked/ (accessed November 25, 2013).
Franks, Trent. “Letter to NEC.” Global Security & Policy. November 6, 2013. http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Congressional-Questions-Concerning-GridEx-II-Exercise-1.pdf (accessed November 25, 2013).
Hodges, Dave. Grid EX II and Martial Law Using Foreign Mercenaries. November 11, 2013. http://thecommonsenseshow.com/2013/11/11/grid-ex-ii-and-martial-law-using-foreign-mercenaries/ (accessed November 25, 2013).
NERC. “NERC Completes Second Grid Security Exercise.” NERC Offical Page. November 14, 2013. http://www.nerc.com/news/Pages/NERC-Completes-Second-Grid-Security-Exercise.aspx (accessed November 24, 2013).