The power grid is vulnerable, extremely vulnerable, but at least one federal agency appears to think that only the eight million preppers in America realized that fact until the Wall Street Journal shared details about nine substations with the world. In an article written by Rebecca Smith last week in the WSJ reported that if just nine of the 55,000 electric substations are taken out by natural causes, a solar flare, EMP attack, cyber attack, or snipers with a good aim, the power grid will go down.
The Wall Street Journal was not leaking state secrets; the journalist was merely quoting from a study conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – FERC. According to Smith, the government study revealed that “coordinated attacks in each of the nation’s three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse.”
Despite the overly burdened and antiquated nature of the power grid, FERC reportedly only began to recently study the matter. The federal energy commission appears to have decided that the issue warranted some research after several Senators pushed for such a review following the attack on the California substation last Spring. The EMP Commission attempted to get Congress and federal agencies to do something to safeguard the power grid for many years. The SHIELD Act, a bi-partisan bill stalled in Congress for several years, attempted to do the exact same thing. Neither effort fell on anything but deaf ears.
Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and other energy regulators are now criticizing Rebecca Smith and the Wall Street Journal for sharing details about what has been obvious to many common Americans for a very long time.
EEI representative Thomas Kuhn had this to say about the Wall Street Journal power grid report.
“We encourage FERC, Congress and the administration to investigate the disclosure of this sensitive information to the Wall Street Journal to ensure that we all continue to have a strong partnership going forward.”
FERC Acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur had this to say about the WSJ power grid report.
“The Wall Street Journal has appropriately declined to identify by name particularly critical substations throughout the country. Nonetheless, the publication of other sensitive information is highly irresponsible. While there may be value in a general discussion of the steps we take to keep the grid safe, the publication of sensitive material about the grid crosses the line from transparency to irresponsibility, and gives those who would do us harm a roadmap to achieve malicious designs. The American people deserve better.”
Those of us who have been gravely concerned about the power grid for years question what steps have ever been done to “keep the grid safe.” Journalists, preppers, off the grid enthusiasts, and researchers who have routinely scoured budget line items and bill passage reports are extremely hard pressed to find any evidence of a coordinated effort to bolster the power grid. LaFleur is right about one thing: the American people do deserve better. We deserve to be informed and have our tax dollars spent wisely and geared toward the protection of the nation’s most fragile piece of infrastructure.
A quick Google search would reveal hundreds of thousands of articles written about the vulnerability of the power grid, Smith’s piece was just perhaps the highest profile with maybe a couple more specific details. Smith and the hundreds of journalists who wrote about the power grid before her did not stand in a crowded movie house and yell “fire” to incite panic. The blame for any panic which has resulted from the nine substations power grid article should rest squarely on the shoulders of FERC and all of the current and pasted elected officials who opted to ignore the major threat to national security. The nation would be at its most vulnerable point in the history of the country if Americans suddenly found themselves huddled in the dark, without any tech gadgets to rely upon, and no dial tone when picking up the phone to call 911 for help.
[Image Courtesy of American Blackout/National Geographic]