GridX II, the nationwide power grid drill (held November 13 and 14) reportedly revealed the country’s electrical grid is extremely vulnerable. The massive multi-nation test reportedly let to some extremely dire conclusion. Much, if not all, of the United States could be left without power if a man-made or natural disaster occurred
During the power grid drill, government and electrical officials simulated a scenario that revolved around tens of millions of Americans being left in the dark after hundreds of transmission lines and transformers were damaged or destroyed. A a computer virus injected into the electrical system was the destructive act the GridX II focused upon. Transformers also were bombed during the simulation. A total of 150 people “died” during the simulation.
The power grid is often referred to as the most vulnerable piece of infrastructure in the United States. Our deep dependency upon the grid and its lack of reliability rarely makes headlines, but is causing increased alarm for activist groups and some lawmakers. The famous Northeast Blackout of 2003 began with a tree limb falling in Ohio and, after a a chain reaction, ended up with 50 million people losing power, including those in New York City and parts of Canada.
Although a decade has passed since the federal government realized there was no direct authority to deal with such a scenario, that problem has not been resolved. During the past three Congressional legislative sessions it has been suggested that the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC) be granted the power to regulate power grid operations, but a vote has never been taken. The SHIELD Act, the first real attempt to enhance and protect the power grid, remains stalled in Congress.
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.
As both the American Blackout original film by National Geographic and the Lights Out Saga independent film (still in production) reveal, life as we know it would cease to exist if the nation is left without power for only a short period of time. If America loses power the nose dive the economy would take would be of epic proportion, the masses would starve, and many would fall victim to violent acts by both criminals and desperate starving folks who had never committed a crime in their lives.
The grid could be attacked any number of ways, including a GridX II-type cyber attack. One example would be a terrorist using something as simple as a USB thumb drive to upload a virus into power plant computers. That was the premise for a novel by former US Senator Byron Dorgan, who believes America is vulnerable to an attack on the grid. A physical attack could happen if someone uses a bomb or other explosive device to destroy essential equipment that often is located miles from cities and populations. That remoteness alone could make the system vulnerable.
The electric system has improved some since the blackout of 2003, but not nearly enough. Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the current U.S. electrical grid a grade of D+ when it evaluated the system for security and other vulnerabilities. There are about 5,800 power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the US, many of them decades old and a large portion of them connected to one another. 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.” It further meant a “large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration” with a strong risk of failure. “America relies on an aging electrical grid and pipeline distribution systems, some of which originated in the 1880s,” the report read.