The electric power grid of the United States and Canada is vulnerable, and can collapse from coast to coast for weeks or months, possibly even longer than a year. Since so many things depend on electricity that this would be almost a doomsday situation, if people are not prepared in advance.
On this page, we explain the problem in detail. On our Information Sources page, we link to detailed documents and other sources that back up this summary.
A comparison with other mega-threats (and a huge bonus!)
You may wonder why we are focusing on the grid when there are many other threats to the country and the world. The reason is that the odds of a grid collapse are much greater than other mega-disasters. Here are some other mega-disasters:
Killer asteroid // Super-volcano explosion and fallout // All-out nuclear war // Pandemic // Bio-terrorism (which is essentially a man-made pandemic) // Collapse of the world’s economy // Climate change.
Why is a grid collapse the #1 threat? Super-volcanoes and killer asteroids are very unlikely, perhaps one chance in 100,000 in the next 50 years. Pandemic flu is roughly as likely as a grid collapse but would not cause nearly the same disruption, loss of life and panic as a grid collapse. All-out nuclear war and bio-terrorism are practically suicidal so few people would initiate it. Climate change could eventually disrupt the lives of billions, but there’s much more time to act. Meanwhile, a grid collapse could happen at any time. Collapse of the world’s economy is unlikely (unless caused by a grid collapse!)
A huge bonus to preparing for a grid collapse is that people then have significant preparation for almost every mega-disaster, as well as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other recurring disasters.
Reasons the grid can collapse
The four potential causes of a major grid collapse are:
- A major solar flare pointing toward Earth. Charged particles from the flare would disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field and would induce currents in long power lines that would damage transformers.
- Physical attacks or terrorism against a small number of primary transformers and substations. The right combination would lead to a domino affect, cascading across the grid.
- A well-crafted cyber-attack.
- An EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) produced by a small or large nuclear weapon. Even one small nuclear weapon at high altitude could knock out the entire grid for weeks or months. A super-EMP weapon is a nuclear device specifically designed to maximize the pulse, at the same time creating minimal direct harm to people.
A super-EMP would also damage most electronic equipment whether they are plugged in or not. Thus your computer, cell phone, radios and almost anything electronic could be permanently destroyed at the same instant as the grid. A super-EMP attack would also temporarily or permanently take out emergency communications networks, such as police, fire and 911. It’s the worst-case scenario. By the way, a super-EMP would also incapacitate solar power systems, both on-grid and off-grid systems.
Of the four causes, only a cyber-attack could possibly be reversed quickly. But it still might last long enough to cause major panic, desperation and societal breakdown. Any of other three causes would likely permanently damage enough of the grid’s 3000 largest transformers for the grid collapse to last many months or possibly over a year before they are replaced.
The consequences of a major grid collapse
An electrical grid collapse could cover most or all of the continental U.S., and Canada. It could last weeks, months or potentially longer than a year.
No electric power means all factory production of food, fuel, medicines and everything else stops.
It means that cell phone and Internet communication stops. The economy essentially stops because banks and others have no access to financial records, and because transactions cannot occur.
This would also mean no air conditioning or heat for most people. Even gas furnaces have electric starters and fans.
Access to water and sanitation would become difficult as water pressure for sinks and toilets would soon drop to zero. (The pumps require electricity.)
At night there would be no lighting, once flashlight batteries and candles are exhausted.
Since gas pumps at service stations require electricity, the fuel becomes inaccessible.
Millions of diabetics will not be able to keep their insulin refrigerated. (There is an alternative way to keep insulin cold for those who prepare ahead of time. See our preparedness section.)
Hospitals would switch to generators, diesel or natural gas, but they don’t have large amounts of fuel on site. And while efforts would be made to prioritize hospitals, eventually fuel supplies would drop because refineries depend on electricity, too.
Nuclear power plants have back-up generators to circulate water in their spent rod cooling ponds. But if these generators run out of diesel fuel, the rods will heat up, catch fire and release radioactive gases.
It only takes a few minutes to grasp the great hardship, misery and stress most people would experience. In wintertime, in desert areas, or during the hottest days, most people would be immediately thrust into survival mode.
At GridEmergency we think that we’ve come up with the best and fastest way to protect yourself and the entire country! This solution could dramatically decrease the vulnerability of Americans in four to five months, if people follow our plan. Then about a year after that, a second layer of security would be added, once the most critical transformers were shielded. But before we explain our proposed solution, please continue on to learn about the problem.
Some reasons for the great vulnerability
Here are some reasons:
- The largest (EVH) transformers are only made in two countries, Germany and South Korea. Only about 180 can be made per year, and hundreds or thousands of these transformers can be destroyed at once.
- Many government leaders have been aware of the problem, but have lacked the political courage to address the problem. Congress has known about the problem since 2004.
- The electric utilities and their self-regulating agency (NERC) have resisted legislation and regulations that would force them to upgrade the grid. In their defense, they already have considerable challenges maintaining an aging grid where 70% of the large transformers are over 25 years old.
- The world and especially the United States have become increasingly dependent on electronic devices. There are only three grids that service all these people.
- Lately, the U.S. government, states and cities have faced many other costly challenges, as well as an unstable global economy. Thus emergency management departments are underfunded.
- Terrorists and nations states like Iran and North Korea have the capacity and desire to cause harm to the United States. North Korea has nuclear weapons, missile and satellite capacity. Several other nations including Russia and China have both nuclear and cyber-attack capabilities. One scenario involves launching a scud missile from a ship near the East Coast of the U.S. A nuclear weapon detonated only about 30 miles up could knock out the Eastern Grid which serves 200 million people.
What are the odds of a long-term grid collapse?
It’s not easy to estimate the odds, but they are within the frequency range that people buy insurance for. In other words, the odds are not one in 100,000, they are closer to the 1 in 100 range each year. For a comparison, the odds of a homeowner having a house fire in the U.S. is about 1 in 300. That’s big enough for people to feel that insurance is worthwhile. If people insure themselves for house fires or car accidents, people should also insure themselves against a grid collapse. This means preparation and supporting loved ones to prepare. (The exact “insurance” we recommend is describe on the Grid Emergency Solution page.)
To estimate the odds of a long-term grid collapse, you’d need to add the odds of a major solar flare hitting the Earth, PLUS the odds of a successful physical attack to the grid, PLUS the odds of a single high-attitude nuclear detonation. It helps to know that there was a major attack to a substation in 2013 in San Jose, knocking out 17 transformers. (Those who did it were never caught.) Certainly the U.S. government is trying to stop all avenues of attack, but there only needs to be one successful attack to collapse the grid.
Can the government rescue and resupply 300 million people?
At this time there is almost no chance that the government would be able to maintain order and resupply people with water, food, and essential medicines. There are three reasons. First, the scale of the disaster is unprecedented. No one in the history of the world has ever been called on to rescue 300 million people at once, let alone continuously supply them. Second, electricity is needed for so many different things that are critical: communication, heating, sanitation, inventory control, banking, traffic lights, most medical procedures, emergency communication with police and firefighters, etc. Thus there would be mass chaos. Third, the federal government has not done adequate planning.
At this time (March 2016) Congress has not even formally passed legislation that requires Homeland Security to have a plan for a grid collapse. If and when this happens, Homeland Security will have a year to get the plan on paper. It will still not be a ready-to-go plan for many months after that.
Even if certain cities and towns have a civil defense plan and stockpiles in place, they’d be overwhelmed by the people around them. This is why people need to prepare and tell others to prepare. This is why the GridEmergency plan was developed, to have a prepared population as quickly as possible.
Become 100% sure about this as soon as possible
We encourage you NOT to trust our assessment of the problem, until you’ve seen some proof. We suggest you watch one of the first three videos on our Key Videos page to hear people talk about the immense threat. The first video is only four minutes long. It has 13 different people with major credentials talking about different aspects of the threat. You can watch from HERE. But besides watching videos, please skim or read some of the official documents that can be found in the second section of our Information Sources page. After that, there should be no doubt that the grid we depend on is extremely vulnerable.
If you want to ask others about this, be careful who you ask, and be precise with your questions. Emergency management people often downplay the threat. So do the utilities. Even some electrical engineers will say things like “the electric grid has never been down for very long.” That’s true, but it’s no predictor of the future. If you ask someone, and they sense you’re troubled about this, they will tend to downplay it. If you want to ask a person with a technical background to help you understand this, make sure they’ve reviewed some of the information on our Information Sources page.
Many people resist and delay learning about the problem. Some people begin to realized that they have to spend time and money to deal with this, and so they resist doing it. But the sooner you face it, the sooner you’ll prepare and reach a much more secure state. We walk you through all the steps, and we streamline things so that you can do this all in about 15 hours. So keep moving forward!
Once you’re certain that the threat is real, you’ve finished the first step. The key is to become 100% convinced that the threat is real. So watch some key videos or visit our Information Sources page. If you’re not 100% convinced, you may procrastinate or delay instead of taking action. Once you’re convinced, please continue on to the next step: learning about the options.