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Government Agency: If 9 Substations Are Destroyed, The Power Grid Could Be Down For 18 Months

Government Agency: If 9 Substations Are Destroyed, The Power Grid Could Be Down For 18 Months.

 By Michael Snyder, on March 18th, 2014

North American Power Grid

What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year?  Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine.  These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly.  But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye?  According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day.  The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations.  If terrorists, or saboteurs, or special operations forces wanted to take down our power grid, it would not be very difficult.  And as you will read about later in this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.

When I read the following statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, I was absolutely floored…

“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”

Wow.

What would you do without power for 18 months?

FERC studied what it would take to collapse the entire electrical grid from coast to coast.  What they found was quite unsettling

In its modeling, FERC studied what would happen if various combinations of substations were crippled in the three electrical systems that serve the contiguous U.S. The agency concluded the systems could go darkif as few as nine locations were knocked out: four in the East, three in the West and two in Texas, people with knowledge of the analysis said.

The actual number of locations that would have to be knocked out to spawn a massive blackout would vary depending on available generation resources, energy demand, which is highest on hot days, and other factors, experts said. Because it is difficult to build new transmission routes, existing big substations are becoming more crucial to handling electricity.

So what would life look like without any power for a long period of time?  The following list comes from one of my previous articles

-There would be no heat for your home.

-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.

-Your computer would not work.

-There would be no Internet.

-Your phones would not work.

-There would be no television.

-There would be no radio.

-ATM machines would be shut down.

-There would be no banking.

-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.

-Without electricity, gas stations would not be functioning.

-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.

-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.

-Hospitals would not be able to function.

-You would quickly start running out of medicine.

-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.

If you want to get an idea of how quickly society would descend into chaos, just watch the documentary “American Blackout” some time.  It will chill you to your bones.

The truth is that we live in an unprecedented time.  We have become extremely dependent on technology, and that technology could be stripped away from us in an instant.

Right now, our power grid is exceedingly vulnerable, and all the experts know this, but very little is being done to actually protect it

“The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. “That’s got to be the focus going forward.”

If a group of agents working for a foreign government or a terrorist organization wanted to bring us to our knees, they could do it.

In fact, there have actually been recent attacks on some of our power stations.  Here is just one example

The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.

The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.

Have you heard about that attack before now?

Most Americans have not.

But it should have been big news.

At the scene, authorities found “more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings“, and little piles of rocks “that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.”

So what happens someday when the bad guys decide to conduct a coordinated attack against our power grid with heavy weapons?

It could happen.

In addition, as I mentioned at the top of this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.

For example, did you know that authorities are so freaked out about the security of the Internet that they have given “the keys to the Internet” to a very small group of individuals that meet four times per year?

It’s true.  The following is from a recent story posted by the Guardian

The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn’t easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders – a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions. They were chosen for their geographical spread as well as their experience – no one country is allowed to have too many keyholders. They travel to the ceremony at their own, or their employer’s, expense.

What these men and women control is the system at the heart of the web: the domain name system, or DNS. This is the internet’s version of a telephone directory – a series of registers linking web addresses to a series of numbers, called IP addresses. Without these addresses, you would need to know a long sequence of numbers for every site you wanted to visit. To get to the Guardian, for instance, you’d have to enter “77.91.251.10” instead of theguardian.com.

If the system that controls those IP addresses gets hijacked or damaged, we would definitely need someone to press the “reset button” on the Internet.

Sadly, the hackers always seem to be several steps ahead of the authorities.  In fact, according to one recent report, breaches of U.S. government computer networks go undetected 40 percent of the time

A new report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) detailswidespread cybersecurity breaches in the federal government, despite billions in spending to secure the nation’s most sensitive information.

The report, released on Tuesday, found thatapproximately 40 percent of breaches go undetected, and highlighted “serious vulnerabilities in the government’s efforts to protect its own civilian computers and networks.”

“In the past few years, we have seen significant breaches in cybersecurity which could affect critical U.S. infrastructure,” the report said. “Data on the nation’s weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants’ confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers.”

Yikes.

And things are not much better when it comes to cybersecurity in the private sector either.  According to Symantec, there was a 42 percentincrease in cyberattacks against businesses in the United States last year.  And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, our major banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”…

Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.

Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.

For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled “Big Banks Are Being Hit With Cyberattacks ‘Every Minute Of Every Day’“.

Up until now, attacks on our infrastructure have not caused any significant interruptions in our lifestyles.

But at some point that will change.

Are you prepared for that to happen?

We live at a time when our world is becoming increasingly unstable.  In the years ahead it is quite likely that we will see massive economic problems, major natural disasters, serious terror attacks and war.  Any one of those could cause substantial disruptions in the way that we live.

At this point, even NASA is warning that “civilization could collapse”…

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

So let us hope for the best.

But let us also prepare for the worst.

US Navy SEALs On Power Grid Attack: ‘A Carbon Copy’ of How We Would Do It

US Navy SEALs On Power Grid Attack: ‘A Carbon Copy’ of How We Would Do It.

Mac Slavo
February 19th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

 

seals
(Image Courtesy NavySeals.com)

The threat of a breakdown of our national power infrastructure has been a growing concern for the last decade. With the invention of “Super EMP” electro-magnetic pulse weapons, the possibility of Carrington-class solar flares, and the potential for cyber attackers to remotely compromise our interconnected computer systems, there may come a time in our country’s future when our entire way of life is threatened because we no longer have access to the one thing that keeps it all moving – electricity. Outgoing Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano recently suggested that such a widespread outage is imminent and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke who is a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee concluded that the chance of a serious geo-magnetic event crippling our power grid is 100%.

The threat is real.

And as recently as last year Americans got a taste of what such an attack may look like. Though not reported at the time out of national security concerns, it was recently revealed that an entire domestic power grid sub-station came under attack in what seems to be a professionally executed assault. The attackers first cut phone lines from the sub-station and they then proceeded to fire 100 rounds from long-range at critical components such as the generators that keep the station cooling systems operational. This resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage and a reported electrical outage that spanned nearly a month.

According to officials this was a sophisticated attack likely involving the coordination of multiple individuals. And they’re not the only ones who think so.

sniper-grid-attack2
(Closed Circuit cameras capture  San Josa, CA power grid sniper attack)

US Navy Seals have said it is a carbon copy of how they would carry out such an operation.

According to Sky News the FBI doesn’t believe this was an act of terrorism – thoughstamping your own gold coins, questioning mainstream ideologies, or purchasing food in bulk do qualify as suspected terrorist operations:

The FBI says it does not believe the attack was terrorism. No one has been arrested.

There are differing opinions at government agencies about what happened. Head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff called it “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”

Investigators don’t know for sure who did it or why, but it’s clear that our power grid has not been secured, despite billions of dollars being spent on the security of the homeland over the last decade.

If a few individuals with an AK-47 are capable of bringing down a sub-station and 17 massive transformers that provide power to hundreds of thousands of people, consider what would happen if a rogue terrorist organization or foreign-sponsored military teams were to target 100 key power stations that provide the electricity for tens of millions of people.

Next time they might not be bringing an AK-47. They could target sub-station components with easily obtained explosive through U.S. black markets and take down scores of transformers that switch electricity across the grid. Should those transformers be destroyed (and not just damaged as they were in this recent attack), then it could take months or years to restore conditions to 100%.

Most transformer components are manufactured overseas and production time in opportune conditions is about 18 months. If hundreds of these transformers were all of a sudden destroyed there is simply no way to bring everything back online in any reasonable amount of time.

As the threat of a power grid outage becomes ever more real, we strongly urge readers to develop a personal preparedness plan that includes long-term food supplies, water, and self defense strategies.

Preparing one second after such an event will be too late.

Hattip Underground Medic

Report: Power Plant Attack: “Most Significant Incident of Domestic Terrorism Involving the Grid That Has Ever Occurred”

Report: Power Plant Attack: “Most Significant Incident of Domestic Terrorism Involving the Grid That Has Ever Occurred”.

Mac Slavo
February 6th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

Comments (80)
Read by 6,007 people

Chances are you didn’t hear about it when it happened or the investigation that followed. Last April just outside of San Jose, California the grid system came under direct attack.

Investigators have yet to identify any suspects, but the attack seems to have been well planned. First, someone accessed an underground vault housing fiber optic telephone cables and cut off communications to a large PG&E Substation.

Then, for 19 minutes, someone opened fire from long-range.

The sniper apparently utilized 7.62x39mm rounds, such as those used in an AK-47, to target the oil-driven cooling systems for 17 large transformers. The shell casings found at the scene had been wiped clean of fingerprints. According to Newsmax none of the transformers exploded, but the damage was significant enough for PG&E to force their electricity feeds to reroute through another station in an effort to prevent a widespread blackout.

As of yet police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have no leads. The evidence suggests any number of scenarios with the highest likelihood being a coordinated attack involving a team. But because of its simplicity it’s possible that the attack could have been orchestrated by a lone individual.

Whatever the case, the event prompted the head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff to call it, “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The 64-year-old Nevadan, who was appointed to FERC in 2006 by President George W. Bush and stepped down in November, said he gaveclosed-door, high-level briefings to federal agencies, Congress and the White House last year. As months have passed without arrests, he said,he has grown increasingly concerned that an even larger attack could be in the works.

He said he was going public about the incident out of concern that national security is at risk and critical electric-grid sites aren’t adequately protected.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t think a terrorist organization caused the Metcalf attack, said a spokesman for the FBI in San Francisco. Investigators are “continuing to sift through the evidence,” he said.

Some people in the utility industry share Mr. Wellinghoff’s concerns, including a former official at PG&E, Metcalf’s owner, who told an industry gathering in November he feared the incident could have been a dress rehearsal for a larger event.

This wasn’t an incident where Billy-Bob and Joe decided, after a few brewskis, to come in and shoot up a substation,” Mark Johnson, retired vice president of transmission for PG&E, told the utility security conference, according to a video of his presentation. “This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components.”

cali-attack2(Via theWall Street Journal)

The most significant power grid attack in U.S. history failed to be reported in any detail by officials or the mainstream media, likely because they did not want to panic the populace.

Could this have been a test for a larger scale event? Certainly.

Since then, what steps have been taken to protect the grid from such attacks, or even other potential scenarios like electro-magnetic pulse devices or solar flares that could wipe out the national power grid within seconds? None.

A single individual could have carried out such an attack. Cut the phone lines. Take aim. Open fire. It’s simple, really.

Now consider the potential damage if a rogue terrorist group or state-sponsored initiative launched a coordinated attack across 50 to 100 critical nodes all over the United States. Such an attack could bring the country to a complete standstill, leavingeconomic destruction and large-scale destabilization in its wake. A couple of days are manageable, but if the right equipment were to be targeted then it’s possible that repairs would take up to 18 months because many transformer components are sourced from foreign nations and have long build times.

The telecommunications systems, power grid, water  utilities, transportation systems, oil refineries and other critical industries across America are, as reported by U.S. Cyber Command, completely exposed to attack. It could come in the form of a cyber vulnerability, as we saw in Illinois when a utility station’s water pump systems overheated due to a reported digital security breach or when our drone fleet was hacked in the middle east. Or, it could be a physical attack like the one in California, with future incidents potentially involving larger transformers and explosives instead of AK-47′s.

The possibilities exist. Our government knows this, as evidenced by the comments of outgoing DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano who recently said that a crippling attack against U.S. infrastructure elements is inevitable.

The fact is that our infrastructure is outdated and exposed. It will not be repaired any time soon because the costs run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Thus, the only real option for Americans is to expect that such an event is coming, and to prepare for it.

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, who has retired and now lives well outside of populated areas, says people should get out of major cities and have a retreat to avoid the fall-out from a grid collapse. His fears are substantiated by a recent report that claims 9 out of 10 Americans would die within a year of the electricity going out.

But whether you head out to the boonies or stay local, even the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends having an emergency supply because, as they’ve admitted, any response in a catastrophic scenario will be slow to come. This means that having a preparedness plan complete with evacuation strategiesfood supplies,water and other considerations will be essential to survival.

The threat is real.

The Day After Chaos | project chesapeake

The Day After Chaos | project chesapeake.

By: Tom Chatham

So, you’ve got your food all stored away to last the next several years. You have your fuel barrel full and your generator and solar panels ready for the end of the power grid. You have enough weapons and ammo to deal with anything. You are mentally and physically prepared for the long hard days ahead.

You are prepared to fight the war that will eventually show up at your front door someday in some form and for an unknown length of time. You are prepared for the chaos, but are you prepared for the eventual peace?

At some point, the situation will stabilize in some form. It will become possible to walk down the street without being shot at. It will become possible to reopen businesses or to barter. It will become possible to breathe a sigh of relief.

When that day comes, how will you survive? You probably have your stash of silver or gold and some barter items but how long will that last? When the system goes down it will take most peoples jobs, their savings, their retirement accounts and pensions and much of the property they thought they owned.

Everyone will be forced to start over again. It could be years before the job market is functioning again. Until then, how do you plan to take care of yourself and your family? What is your plan to generate some income to live on and acquire the things you need?

Surviving the chaos will be a full time job but when it’s over, then what? Your gold and silver will take you a long ways but they only provide you with a temporary solution to your future needs. At some point you will need to start saving for the day when you are no longer able to do useful work.

Most people are busy preparing to just survive the coming chaos but some thought needs to be given to the day after it all ends. Even a few minutes spent now developing a basic plan will be critical to helping you transition to the new normal. A basic idea and the acquisition of a few basic tools or supplies to help you develop your new income stream will help you leverage your time and supplies to get by in the future.

Knowledge is the primary tool you need to navigate the future. Knowing how to make physical things or repair things will help you meet the future needs of society. Next to that, the storage of tools, machines, raw materials and information relevant to start a new business needed by the community will give you an edge.

In a prolonged period of chaos much of our infrastructure will likely be destroyed. In the aftermath, those with the skills and tools to rebuild will be a valuable asset to society. The ability to repair vehicles or machines, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical, healthcare, farming and skills to build physical products will all be needed by a populace that wishes to regain some of the creature comforts they have lost in past years.

The more skills and materials you have when that day comes the sooner recovery can happen. Some may say it is a bit presumptive to plan for a day when things get better but if you feel things will never get better then why prepare to get through the worst of times at all? If you have the courage to plan for difficult times then you should also give yourself the ability to enjoy the day when things get better. Planning ahead for the distant future was never more important than it is right now.

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