Power grid failure warnings have been ignored by the federal government, according to an emergency planner cited in a new G2 Bulletin by World Net Daily’s Joseph Farah. If the claims are accurate, disaster responders are ill-equipped to deal with a massive blackout stemming from a solar flare, EMP attack or cyber attack on the power grid.
GridX II, a nationwide drill involving the federal government simulating a downed power grid, will take place today and Thursday. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, a failure of the country’s electrical grid for weeks or months would prompt a catastrophic economic collapse, end the food supply chain at least temporarily, and lead to many deaths. After leaving her post at the Department of Homeland Security, former agency secretary Janet Napolitano deemed a cyber attack on the power grid a matter of not “if,” but “when.”
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Congressional advisory board on both the National and Homeland Security Task Forces and the US Nuclear Strategy Forum, told Farah that US utilities have been resisting initiatives to “harden” the power grid and local utilities against a failure of the system.
Pry cited the stalled Congressional SHIELD Act as an example of the federal government’s unwillingness to act on the concerns raised by a myriad of experts. SHIELD stands for Secure High-Voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage. The legislation was introduced by Republican Representative Trent Franks of Arizona.
As previously reported by Off The Grid News, the SHIELD Act has been stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee for several years. If approved, the legislation would enhance the government’s ability to initiate protective measures to help guard the power grid from both man-mad and natural disasters. The bill focuses on protecting the 300 electric transformers around the United States.
Representative Trent Franks said this about the SHIELD Act:
“It is critical that we protect our major transformers from cascading destruction. The SHIELD Act encourages industry to develop standards necessary to protect our electric infrastructure against both natural and man-made EMP events.”
The power grid protection bill has bipartisan support, but a vote on the potentially life-saving legislation has yet to be called. According to Pry, the electric utility industry has not shown any interest in spending time and money on the repairs and upgrades necessary to protect the power grid.
Representative Franks recently introduced new power grid legislation due to the languishing of the SHIELD Act. HR3410 is referred to as CIPA or the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act. If passed, the legislation would amend the Homeland Security Act by mandating that an EMP attack be considered a vital part of DHS national emergency planning scenarios.
Pry said this about the importance of protecting the power grid:
“Administratively, a coherent and effective answer will not likely arise from uncoordinated decisions made independently by the thousands of individual electric utilities and industries at risk. Because cyber preparedness should encompass EMP preparedness – and since EMP is an existential threat – it is imperative that government play a supervisory and coordinating role to achieve protection against these threats swiftly.”
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is the entity that represents utility industry partners and is tasked with protecting the bulk of power transmissions on the electrical grid. The catch 22 for the safety-focused group revolves around the fact that the federal government currently lacks the authority to mandate local utility companies to institute EMP and related protections for the power grid.
The GridX II drill sounds like it will be a step in the right direction to garner more details about the specific frailties of the national grid, but if Congress refused to take action, the time and money spent on the drill could be worthless. A one-time investment of $2 billion is called for in the SHIELD Act. While such a figure is a large amount, it pales in comparison to what America spends in foreign aid each year.
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) estimated that funding the SHIELD Act would cost the average tax payer approximately 20 cents per year. The US government (i.e. the taxpayers) spent about the same amount to Pakistan on an annual basis, Fry told Farah.
What do you think about the SHIELD Act and the GridX II power grid drill?