Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
“The physical generation of renewable energy isn’t really the problem here,” Oliver explained. “The key issue is the transmission of it. Basically, how do you get that energy from where it’s made, like a wind farm in Wyoming, to where it is needed, which could be a thousand miles away.”
The answer is transmission lines, “the absolute heart of our grid, and we’re going to need more of them”, said Oliver. But there are several difficulties to refreshed transmission lines, starting with location: building hundreds of miles of lines is a logistical nightmare, and local opposition to bigger towers can derail plans for years.
Basically, how do you get that energy from where it’s made, like a wind farm in Wyoming, to where it is needed, which could be a thousand miles away.”
“But the key thing going forward here might be to start thinking about this differently than we currently are, because for far too long, whenever we’ve experienced blackouts, we tend to think of it as the power gird ‘failing’. But the truth is, it’s not failing us; we are failing it, by asking it to do something it was not designed to do, in conditions that it was not designed to handle.”
In this New York Times bestselling investigation, Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.
“Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.
It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.”
And yet, as Koppel makes clear, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid. The current Secretary of Homeland Security suggests keeping a battery-powered radio.
In the absence of a government plan, some individuals and communities have taken matters into their own hands. Among the nation’s estimated three million “preppers,” we meet one whose doomsday retreat includes a newly excavated three-acre lake, stocked with fish, and a Wyoming homesteader so self-sufficient that he crafted the thousands of adobe bricks in his house by hand. We also see the unrivaled disaster preparedness of the Mormon church, with its enormous storehouses, high-tech dairies, orchards, and proprietary trucking company – the fruits of a long tradition of anticipating the worst. But how, Koppel asks, will ordinary civilians survive?”
When the Power Grid Fails – 12 Things You Need to Prepare
getting older. It is reaching capacity and it is under attack. As of 2021, the average age of the power grid is 31 years old. Power outages are over 2.5 times more likely than they were in 1984.
In the article Bracing for a big power grid attack: ‘One is too many’, USA Today states “About once every four days, part of the nation’s power grid — a system whose failure could leave millions in the dark — is struck by a cyber or physical attack.” Without a plan in place, most of us would be in bad shape with an extended grid outage. Power outages cost between $18 and $33 billion per year in the United States.
- Back-up Power
- Off Grid Cooking Supplies
- Heating and Cooling
- First Aid Supplies
- Everything Else