Unless you are completely unplugged or have your head buried in the sand, then you already know an EMP attack could knock out America’s aging electrical grid.
Multiple TV shows have explored the impact of a nationwide grid down scenario. And just last fall there was a major preparedness drill called GridEx II, a multi-nation drill that studied the potential results of a long-term grid outage.
But what most people don’t realize is that you don’t even need an EMP to bring down the grid…
All you need is a well-coordinated attack on a single factory and as few as nine key substations to cause a coast-to-coast blackout that would last 18 months or longer.
Experts say a small coordinated attack could cripple the electrical grid for 18 months or longer.
In a recently published memo, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded, “Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”
And this isn’t mere speculation either. Just last April there was a well-coordinated attack on a substation in California. Some people believe it may have been a dry run for a larger future attack.
The shocking details of the event — in the middle of the night six men fired hundreds of AK-47 rounds at critical energy grid components after purposely disabling emergency call systems — rightly piqued the collective curiosity.
The incident happened around 1 a.m. on April 16, 2013. A suspect broke into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut AT&T telephone cables that enabled security response for the substation. Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on the electric grid components.
Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 10 transformers – the size of double-decker buses – that funnel power to Silicon Valley. Just seconds before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night, according to the WSJ.
Turns out, just a handful of electrical substations play a disproportionate role in the transport of electricity around the country. Knock these out and it’s game over. There is no backup plan.
Jon Wellinghoff, a former FERC chair, believes we need a more distributed electrical system to eliminate these major vulnerabilities. Whether these proactive changes are implemented before the next attack remains to be seen.
Don’t be scared. Be prepared.