The threat of a breakdown of our national power infrastructure has been a growing concern for the last decade. With the invention of “Super EMP” electro-magnetic pulse weapons, the possibility of Carrington-class solar flares, and the potential for cyber attackers to remotely compromise our interconnected computer systems, there may come a time in our country’s future when our entire way of life is threatened because we no longer have access to the one thing that keeps it all moving – electricity. Former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano recently suggested that such a widespread outage is imminent and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke who is a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee concluded that the chance of a serious geo-magnetic event crippling our power grid is 100%.
The threat is real.
And as recently as last year Americans got a taste of what such an attack may look like. Though not reported at the time out of national security concerns, it was recently revealed that an entire domestic power grid sub-station came under attack in what seems to be a professionally executed assault. The attackers first cut phone lines from the sub-station and they then proceeded to fire 100 rounds from long-range at critical components such as the generators that keep the station cooling systems operational. This resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage and a reported electrical outage that spanned nearly a month.
According to officials this was a sophisticated attack likely involving the coordination of multiple individuals. And they’re not the only ones who think so.
According to Sky News the FBI doesn’t believe this was an act of terrorism – though stamping your own gold coins, questioning mainstream ideologies, or purchasing food in bulk do qualify as suspected terrorist operations:
The FBI says it does not believe the attack was terrorism. No one has been arrested.
There are differing opinions at government agencies about what happened. Head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff called it “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”
Investigators don’t know for sure who did it or why, but it’s clear that our power grid has not been secured, despite billions of dollars being spent on the security of the homeland over the last decade.
If a few individuals with an AK-47 are capable of bringing down a sub-station and 17 massive transformers that provide power to hundreds of thousands of people, consider what would happen if a rogue terrorist organization or foreign-sponsored military teams were to target 100 key power stations that provide the electricity for tens of millions of people.
Next time they might not be bringing an AK-47. They could target sub-station components with easily obtained explosive through U.S. black markets and take down scores of transformers that switch electricity across the grid. Should those transformers be destroyed (and not just damaged as they were in this recent attack), then it could take months or years to restore conditions to 100%.
Most transformer components are manufactured overseas and production time in opportune conditions is about 18 months. If hundreds of these transformers were all of a sudden destroyed there is simply no way to bring everything back online in any reasonable amount of time.
As the threat of a power grid outage becomes ever more real, we strongly urge readers to develop a personal preparedness plan that includes long-term food supplies, water, and self defense strategies.
Preparing one second after such an event will be too late.