Lights Out For A Nation Unprepared As Cyberattack Downs Power Grid
Ted Koppel, the anchor of ‘Nightline’ from its inception in 1980 until his retirement in 2005, is now buying freeze-dried food for his family as a result of recent ominous conclusions spelled out in his book, “Lights Out”, revealing the great dangers that we are facing from a debilitating and potentially very deadly ‘grid-down’ cyberattack. And it’s not science fiction…
The fact that we are utterly dependent upon the power grid for our survival as a nation and a people, exposes one of our greatest vulnerabilities – the constant flow of electricity. Ted Koppel exposes just how vulnerable we really are to a massive cyberattack – bringing it all down…
There are a number of popular fictional books surrounding the scenario of power grid failure and the apocalyptic aftermath thereof, however Ted’s non-fiction book is the first that I am aware of written by a highly regarded mainstream media figure who through his levelheaded talent as an interviewer uncovers a frightening and very real situation that we are facing right now… a cyberattack on our power grid.
Mr. Koppel understands the devastating impact of power grid failure when he writes,
Extended periods of darkness, longer and more profound than anyone now living in one of America’s great cities has ever known.
As power shuts down there is darkness and the sudden loss of electrical conveniences. As batteries lose power, there is the more gradual failure of cellphones, portable radios, and flashlights.
Emergency generators provide pockets of light and power, but there is little running water anywhere. In cities with water towers on the roofs of high-rise buildings, gravity keeps the flow going for two, perhaps three days. When this runs out, taps go dry; toilets no longer flush. Emergency supplies of bottled water are too scarce to use for anything but drinking, and there is nowhere to replenish the supply. Disposal of human waste becomes a critical issue within days.
Supermarkets and pharmacy shelves are empty in a matter of hours. It is a shock to discover how quickly a city can exhaust its food supplies. Stores do not readily adapt to panic buying, and many city dwellers, accustomed to ordering out, have only scant supplies at home. There is no immediate resupply, and people become desperate.
-Ted Koppel (the first few paragraphs of the book)
He states “We have developed dependencies we could not even have imagined a generation ago.” “To be dependent is to be vulnerable.”
While Mr. Koppel exhibits traits of being preparedness-minded, he knows that “the ranks of our enemies, those who would and can inflict serious damage on America, have grown and diversified.” These (enemies) are not just nation states, but they include hackers, proxies, and independent actors who make it difficult or even impossible to know exactly who they are.
While researching for nearly two years, Koppel interviews an impressive number of ‘high ranking’ people who are ‘in the know’, and his thorough reporting thereof reveals alarming and sobering apparent truths.
For example, during an interview with the four star general who commands CENTCOM (United States Central Command), the general put it this way regarding a power grid cyberattack, “It’s not a question of if, it’s just a question of when.”
“The Chinese and the Russians already have, essentially, ‘time bombs’ inside our power grid.” He goes on to say that they probably won’t use them because of our inter-relationships, but if you start thinking about the Iranians, the North Koreans, and groups like ‘ISIS’, they are all developing the same kind of capability and they wouldn’t be restrained the same way that the Chinese and the Russians would.
“What scares me is the fact that people in government…there’s no plan” says Koppel, despite the warnings from high ranking officials of a coming ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’. There is no plan for a cyber attack that would potentially be infinitely longer in duration than disaster from hurricanes, snowstorms, or earthquakes (for example) while affecting more than tens of millions of people.
Ted adamantly points out that we need to prepare for the consequences of a cyberattack and says “We are not ready”. He also points out how we are not a preemptive society, but instead a reactionary society. He’s right on. Very few people think ‘preemptively’ while the vast majority are stuck in ‘normalcy bias’ going about their daily lives ‘reacting’ to circumstances.
After all of his research, Ted Koppel is entirely convinced that ‘something is going to happen’ (cyberattack and power grid failure) and is quite apparently an advocate for preparedness because of it. He knows (as exemplified in the book) that government is in no way ready or capable of dealing with such a disaster, and while he is stupefied as to the government’s lack of acknowledgement to this threat and their lack of action, he is evidently taking responsibility for himself and his family while doing what he can to prepare…
As someone who is actively involved with preparedness, I have been encouraged having read his book that someone such as himself (a major mainstream media figure) is sounding the alarm.
I do recommend his book, “Lights Out”, which reports and explains much more of the technical substance to substantiate the systemic risk that we all face, when the lights go out…
Ted Koppel interviewed on ‘CBS This Morning’ regarding his book:
Thanks for the review. I have been waiting to see what you thought of his book.
I am going to click on your link and order it now.
I watched the interview and I liked the part where he said “if you prepare for something that doesn’t happen then you will at least be prepared for any other disaster that comes along”.
Adapt and Overcome.
That statement is gold, is also how and why i prep as i can, doesnt matter what it is or when it happens, it wont hurt as bad because of the stuff i have put aside, money comes and goes, but as long as i have a good stock of foods etc i know i wont starve, and know i wont need to chase after supplies either if TSHTF
WHEN THE SHTF, ALL BETS ARE OFF. THE GOVERNMENTWILL BREAK INTO OUR HOMES AND WILL TAKE (AT GUN POINT IF NESSESARY) ALL YOUR FOOD, ANY GOLD & SILVER GUNS & AMMO & ANYTHING ELSE THEY WANT & YOU CAN’T DO A THING ABOUT IT. THE GOVERNMENT LOOKS AT PREPPERS AS HORDERS. I RECOMEND TO YOU AND ANYONE ELSE READING THIS COMMENT HIDE & BURRY ALL YOU CAN SO THEY CAN’T FIND IT. BASEMENTS ARE THE FIRST PLACES THEY WILL LOOK.
GOD BLESS & KEEP YOU SAFE
Just purchased using Ken’s Amazon link myself.
Good advice to follow.
Wow! Good to see a “mainstream” personality going public on prepping and our vulnerability as a nation.
Next thing you know, someone from the mainstream will admit the climate change power grab is just a giant scam.
I wouldn’t count on it unless it would happen very soon!!!!
I suspect the upcoming event in Paris will also be used to further the gun control agenda under the disguise of Climate Change because its the same group of people!!!
You can be sure Koppel has always been a rabid anti-gun, or he would have never risen to the top of the media heap. You can also bet he now has a pickup load of weapons and ammo.
I am not aware of his politics, either past or present. But when someone takes the red pill, they tend to become preparedness-minded ;)
The Matrix is Real – and when it goes down, you are on your own
Thats the thing with being prepared, it generally has nothing to do with your political affiliation, usually more tied to a conservative mindset, but i know plenty of liberals who are quite well prepared. Politics gets drug into every discussion it seems, even though it is not generally the end all for most folks direction.
I don’t see this as a conservative or liberal issue, although it could be turned into one; ‘big government’ vs ‘global warming’ and so on. Ted Koppel did not do that. He did not speak of preppers or the LDS disparagingly. His harshest criticism in my opinion was for the tendency to do nothing until after ‘it’ has happened. And if 911 has taught us anything the aftermath of a grid-wide collapse will result in a government response that will result in a total liberty collapse.
True, But it is a shame to finally see these “mainstream” people, try to sell the mainstream hype while being in the fold getting their paychecks and now have a kodak moment and want to tell it like it is to the American public. We wonder why there are so many shepple in our Nation. I try and get past the fact that they now want to come clean, that is all well and great but maybe they might want to donate their book income back to some of the souls they have mislead. The truth will set you free….yes indeed
In my opinion, this is not hype. It is a real threat assessment. It’s so nice to see this being presented in the spotlight by a mainstream journalist.
Ken, Sorry not to pick on you…Please reread my post, the ‘Hype” (I was referring only to him while he was with the Obama reporting machine) when he was a newscaster. I applaud the book, but not the man himself. Unlike Glenn Beck, who left Fox to start Mercury one broadcasting,when Fox started to put the muzzle on Mr. Beck, this is a person who to me ‘walks the walk and talks the talk’.
No offense taken. I believe that he was retired before the ‘O’ regime came into power. While I am always skeptical of mainstream news media slant (obviously towards the left, or further), during his time at ‘Nightline” I felt that he was level-headed and not particularly politicizing. That was many years ago though (he retired in 2005) so memory gets a little ‘fuzzy’ ;)
Good review Ken, Thanks
I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book, it’s very technically informative, NOT by any means a novel. It’s also amazing the number of “top dogs” he has interviewed and what they are saying. Like so many that actually “prep” I’m shocked on what the .gov knows and will do NADA or have NO plans to do anything about it, not only in the cyber, but totally. But I will guarantee you those that do know are well prepared, as Ted Koppel is now doing.
Get ready people, prepare, “it” (choose your own “it”) IS coming and will destroy you if your not ready.
I too was impressed by ‘who’ he was able to interview, although his clout and status surely helped him ‘in the door’.
Some of the technical details about the techniques used to ‘manage’ the many various power grid load demands vs. available surplus power resources – interacting with the many hundreds of grid operations (operators) was interesting – and exposing further vulnerabilities to cyberattack – upsetting the balance.
While I personally am not shocked in the least regarding .gov and their lack of plans to deal with such a disaster, I believe that Mr. Koppel was shocked (at least that’s the drift that I got…). I wasn’t sure whether or not he was hinting at promoting or advocating more .gov preemptive ‘involvement’ with the internet and its so called ‘security’, but that’s where you start stepping on the toes of freedom and liberty… There’s not a clear answer – except to prepare…
Great post Ken!!
One of my sons works for an alphabet Dept. I asked him 2 Christmas’s ago about this. All he could tell me is they are working on it.(his area of expertise) The Problem is it’s only for military and continuance of Gov.The public grid is a low priority except for certain areas.
I think Koppel grew a conscience. I guess when the masses realize they have been manipulated and lied to their families destruction he doesn’t want to be hung with the rest. How many people/sheep will actually give this a seconds thought? The percentage will be low even if he sells millions of books.
We lost power last night from a storm. Broke out a couple of oil lamps to read by. A minor inconvenience for a few hours. I was glad the power was on this morning…running and taking care of your own power generation(solar or genny)requires time and expertise for the long haul…
Now if more of his peers start speaking out I might get excited about it but doubt that will happen!
Steelheart of all the posts for this topic your second paragraph says it all.
Kudos my friend we are coming to that day at light speed, and now I read about the attack in Paris, the proof is there for people to see and hear. “Ideals are peaceful history is violent” Wardaddy in the movie fury.
At last a well established member of MSM that’s gone public to expose one of the realities that all will have to deal with. The mere fact that our Govt has done nothing to combat this threat, might very well be exposing another act of treason from within.
Veterans, today we honor you and the sacrifices that you and your families have made to serve our country!! Thank You!!
This is why I am gearing all of our preps away from electrical back-ups and needs. Yes I have a generator with about 30 days run time fuel, but that is just to give us enough time to use up or can the food in the freezer. I really think if we gear ourselves to items from earlier generations, we will do okay.
@ Peanut Gallery
I’m in the same thinking as you, I have Gen-sets (3) and fuel that will give me power enough to preserve what is in the freezers, Canning and Drying (about 3-4 months worth). I have also been pushing my preps to be non-electrical apart from comms and absolutely necessities.
With reading this book so far (about 1/3rd) I have decided to pursue Solar more quickly than I had anticipated.
To be honest I’m very surprised we have not been hit HARD yet… I believe that Ted Koppel is spot on so far in his book.
I agree, COMS are necessary as well as radio. Those are the only two areas I take steps in protecting with a Faraday cage. Information is more important than keeping my freezer running.
You might consider in investing in a solar system to at least have enough electrical storage capacity to run the freezer only for 14 to 16 hrs a day. I’m planning to run my gas generator for only 4 to 6 hours during daylight hours, while storing energy via solar panels for electricity during the night because its silent for security reasons and conservation of gas.
If for nothing else, the solar system should be enough to at least recharge your radios and rechargeable batteries for flash lights, gun scopes, jump off vehicle battery, etc!!
You may have already considered this but others may not have.
@ Being Watched. I had considered solar for a long time. Not knowing how they would be affected with an CME or EMP, I’ve decided to put the money towards sure things that will work regardless. When and only when all of our other large projects are done will I consider solar as a back-up, but I don’t want to rely on something that may or may not work in the future. That is too much money for me to be gambling.
Being currently unemployed has slowed down our big projects as we don’t wish to go into debt to get them done.
@ Peanut Gallery
A CME or an EMP would most likely fry a Solar System.
BUT it sure would help in a cyber attack on the electrical gird or the hundreds of other SHTF scenarios.
OPEN QUestion… for anyone who may know… Has anyone seen any tests?… If you have solar panels working and the grid goes down say from EMP…what would need to be repaired to get them back up.? Inverter/ charge controller? or would it fry the wiring in the whole unit?
Those would be what needs to be put in faraday cage.. Battery + those components would need to be reserved as back up.
Just Sayin’ – I’m in electronics as my career. Marine (nav,comm, radar, vessel control …. sonar, you name it); as well as, I work additionally as an IT for residential and commercial customers. Like many here, I’ve already prepped a small solar array, charge controller and batteries. Enough for bare-bones basic comm and other uses. Not for refrigeration or large loads.
To answer you – solar cells are what they are – photo-voltaic panels. They are semi-conductors. The sun’s energy is converted into DC electricity by causing current flow by the usual P-N junction bias effect. Like all semi-conductors, they are prey for an EMP or other pulse phenomena effect (coronal mass ejection….. to a much lesser degree ). A solar array can withstand far more of an electro-magnetic pulse than most electronics simply because they are designed to convert the incoming energy to raw current/power. That is not to say they could not become overloaded and blow out. All depends on strength of pulse, distance from pulse origin, environmental factors (humidity, particles in the air….). BUT!!! even if the solar array itself doesn’t fry, the connected equipment most likely would. To protect a complete system – first the charge controller must be ‘Faraday caged’; along with any inverters (DC to AC voltage converters) and any directly connected equipment. Those will definitely take a ‘hit’. So, you may end up with a nice panel of pretty glass with cute funny ring-thingies; but, all else is gone.
Just remember, the solar cell was a precursor of the modern transistor and integrated circuit. Its function is to convert energy into DC voltage. How much conversion before overload is all part of the specs of the individual cells. Think of a light bulb. Works fine @ say 120 VAC, right? Okay, increase to say 130 VAC – most likely continues to work, just brighter. Keep going up. Eventually, the filament will burn out. Now, instead of a slow rate of raising the voltage in stages, do so in a sudden x5+ increment. See? Some might do fine (solar cells), some might blow at any sudden increase beyond their maximum limits. No different really than turning a light-bulb on and off, on and off …. repeatedly. We all know that will sooner rather than later cause the bulb to burn out by the rapid heating and cooling. Just like to break a piece of rebar, all you have to do is get enough leverage to bend it one way, then the other – some number of times and voila! it snaps off.
Sounds like you have some knowledge on solar systems. I have a small 500 watt solar system that IS NOT hooked up. My charge controller, inverter, and multi panel junction are all kept in a Faraday cage, my panels are not as they are too large to store in my Faraday cage. I have been told that if the panels are not hooked up during the CME or EMP that they will be ok. Was I given bad info? I have 4 generators and fuel that I plan to use for up to 60 days following such event or until I get the solar set up out and hooked up. Ideally, I’d have the solar set up running in the first couple days so the generators could be used for charging the system batteries during those prolonged cloudy periods. I guess i could build a small metal shed with metal floor (large Faraday cage) to store my panels in if necessary but like I said above I was told it wasn’t necessary if the panels weren’t hooked up.
If your panels are still in the shipping boxes, wrap the boxes with heavy aluminum foil for some protection. Be sure no gaps left exposed.
I agree NRP. I still have a solar system on our wish list as far as preps. It’s just that it has slipped down the list as far as importance. I can live without electricity, although inconvenient we won’t die. It means more work on our part doing daily chores, etc. Currently at the top of the list is a hand pump for the well as we feel water needs to take top priority. Yes we have water all around us, but we are both getting up in age and hauling water would be the hardest on us. If the world holds together long enough, we just may get there and get a solar system, but I am not holding out hope at this point.
Being Watched, Love your name, reminds me of the old saying that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you! Seriously though on the freezer issue. A few days ago there was talk about building your house and I broached the subject about having a centrally located fireplace for thermal mass. That works both ways. The more you have in the freezer the less it has to run. Also the better insulated it is the less it will need to run. We too have a generator that we would use until we could can the frozen stuff. I think running the generator for an hour or 2 every 12 hours would probably be adequate to keep everything frozen until needed. We do live in a very mild climate and others might have to run it longer. A very affordable option is found at Lowes and Home Depot. The both sell large sheets of Foam insulation in various thicknesses. Placing sheets along the sides and tops would help. Just don’t cover up the exhaust fan. If the freezer is only half full consider storing water jugs in it, It will increase the thermal mass.
@ Peanut…we are of a like mind. We have plenty of fuel, but would rapidly can or freeze dry whatever is in the freezers and fridges….would not want to keep them running for too long. Have more than one fridge that runs on propane, so those I would leave alone, at least for immediate milk and butter type items.
Greens can be keep in an unglazed terra cotta pot that is inside a glazed pot filled with water and/or wet sand. This will keep them fresh for two weeks at a time! Good place to keep fresh fruit as well, krsips them. Keep a lid on the unglazed pot.
@ Pioneer Woman, I have considered getting a propane fridge, but I cannot find any info on them. Like how much propane does it use? How long would a 20 pound tank last?
A ‘propane fridge’ works on the ammonia absorption/regeneration cooling cycle. Propane is merely the heat source, the power that causes the cycle. You could use a candle in a pinch. I have and it will work. Any heat source focused in the right location @ the generator portion of the device will cause the cycle to ‘power up’.
Check out say Dometic RV refrigerators and the principle/theory/scheme of ammonia absorption/regeneration.
A propane refrigerator is fairly primitive technology going back to the infancy of refrigeration. Basically, it uses a small flame to heat the refrigerant (freon) to percolate, forcing it through the expansion valve to vaporize, causing the drastic drop in temperature as it goes through cooling coils to transfer this cold to the inside of the unit. It was abandoned, as the refrigerant of the day was ammonia,which is highly flammable and toxic to breathe, causing some pretty catastrophic accidents. Electric motor compressors became the safer alternative. The advent of “freon” (a much safer refrigerant than ammonia) did not cause the industry to return to the more energy efficient propane units, as electric power companies tended to dominate the appliance industry.
The popularity of recreational vehicles/camping trailers brought about the resurrection of the technology.
As for how long a 20# bottle would last, it should last quite a long time as the only usage is to keep a pilot light size flame burning, which percolates the refrigerant. The only moving part is a fan to cool the condensing coils, which can run off battery or ac current.
Hopes this helps you. This is from memory and I’m sure someone will point out any errors I may have made.
Thank you Heartless & Dennis for the excellent info on propane refrigerators.
Both of you are spot on, thanks for getting out the info, I have a toyhauler with a propane fridge, as a backup and bugout unit. These units would be fantastic in a time of need if the grid is down and another point of interest for those with medications like insulin that require refrigeration it might be your life saver. No pun intended.
from what you say, a propane fridge can be run cheaply and for a long time on very little propane?
so, what are the negatives to this system (propane fridge/freezer/heater)?
seems like it might be the ideal for off gridders, or for backup systems in case of power failure?
I used a newer RV sized propane refrigerator for about a year when I first ditched all utilities almost 5 years ago. The warmest setting kept the fridge below 40. I would get 30-35 days off a #20 cylinder. I cant remember the brand :)
I have a Grape Solar 5CF 12v DC compressor fridge now. I miss the propane fridge, it was totally silent and the freezer froze ice cream solid!
Wow — is there REALLY a journalist on the Left who spoke the truth???
I don’t have this book yet but am very curious to know if Koppel interviewed Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and if so, what did he say?
Yeah, I’m kinda paranoid already and should probably wait a wee bit before reading this and freaking out even more. Though I could try to get the wife to read it, and maybe getting her a bit more on board.
It is interesting as Ted pointed out that LDS was totally prepared for Katrina the hurricane well before it came ashore while it took weeks for the government to show up, and when they did it was too little too late.
Excellent references, Ken! Scares the crap outta me, too! We(personally) are woefully UNDERprepared for an EMP or “lights out” event. While we personally cannot control the grid, we can and are slowly building up our own capabilities, (solar and whole house NG and propane generator) for when the power grid is attacked.
I’ve long held the belief as reiterated by Koppel that the PRC and the Soviet(Russians) have implanted cyber-bugs in our power grid ready to be triggered at their time and convenience.
THe crazy inbred DWARF that is the DearLeader of the NORKS, I find to be the main unpredictable character we have to deal with. We KNOW the Iranians will do it regardless of who tells them not too.
Not preparing the civilian power grid by at least offering the public utilities and their private ownership/stockholders massive tax breaks for EMP survivability is nonsensical at a minimum. it is projected that “only 2-3 Billion dollars” is all it would take to secure our civilian power grid, we pee away that much money each month in fraud and wasteful Federal spending.
I just purchased it for my kindle and have begun to read it. I find it fascinating what he was able to find out about the power grids, and how little is being done to protect our power source. The reading is intriguing to say the least, and it gives actual accounts & events that have occurred. I have recommend it to several of my co workers and family. I hope to finish it in few days.
I’m a 1/3 of the way in. Very thought provoking. I think it could happen. My DH says though if “They” had the capability “They” would have done it. DH says if “We” get shut down it will hurt the whole world. I said that’s why it hasn’t been done yet. “THEY” are trying to find a way around that.
I agree with you. I think the only reason they have not done anything yet is because the USD is still the world currency. Thats why China created the AIIB and are working to make the Yuan the world currency. Just recently (11-9-15) China announced that they would start direct trading with the Swiss Franc. I think once more and more countries start direct trading and the Yuan gains more power then, we will go lights out.
However I dont think Russia or China will be the culprits instead they will have N.Korea or Iran be the bad guy (if there is a way to track who did it).
Just my 2cents. Who really knows, but either way it is some scary crap. Only positive about if the grid goes down vs a EMP is that at least the vehicles will run and not every piece of electronics will be fried.
Adapt and Overcome.
Take note that Ted K. has pointed out that it does not have to be a country, a terrorist group; one teenager in his parents’ basement can do it on a laptop computer. This has already been demonstrated by Manning and Snowden. Also take note that the Navy has now supplemented their navigational abilities with old-fashioned star navigation.
And again, take note that the government is not at all concerned with protection and survival of the public electrical grid, only the survival of the military and the government, as they have said, the public is on their own.
Tin foil hat time: could it be that the government officials that were interviewed by Ted what they did to encourage a public demand for more security in exchange for privacy/liberty loss?
In either case, I did not read the book, I listened to the audible version and highly recommend it due to the way Ted emphasizes certain points.
11HE9; I agree w/ “Just my 2cents. Who really knows, but either way it is some scary crap. Only positive about if the grid goes down vs a EMP is that at least the vehicles will run and not every piece of electronics will be fried.”
But I also believe that the grid going down will not be the end of it, who-ever does it. My belief is that “grid down” will be followed up within a few days or a week with some type of EMP attack to make sure to get any backup power generation/communication capabilities that are brought online/exposed. It wont really matter that vehicles still work in a grid down situation for long as there will be no power available to pump fuel for them. Things to think about and prepare for.
In a grid down/non EMP mode, anything device physically connected/wired to the grid is down. Standlone battery based devices are functional
My maternal grandparents lived in a rural farming community less than 20 miles east of downtown Dallas, Texas. They, like most of their neighbors, had electricity when I was child, but their home (3 rooms, including the kitchen) was only wired for one light bulb hanging from the ceiling. No refrigerator or any other appliances. No plumbing or even a pump on their hand dug, shallow well. Outside privy, kerosene lights, no car.
This was their lifestyle when I was born in 1950 and they made no changes until 1968, when my one of my aunts and her husband bought a pump for the well and added a bathroom onto the side of the house.
It is sad, but true, that the loss of electricity, something most folks don’t even fully appreciate, a loss that less than 50 years ago would have been a minor inconvenience to a lot of rural Americans, could today, in our pampered, unprepared condition, result in thousands, if not millions, of deaths.
My grand-parents, though self educated and poor, would scoff at such a notion, shaking their heads in wonder of how such well educated, blessed people, could be so stupid. They raised six children under conditions most modern yuppies couldn’t even survive trying to care only for themselves.
I think it’s time I put that well in and buy a solar powered back up pump!!! Just put this book on my wish list. I look forward to the read.
Great site, topics consistently spot on !! I am an avid reader, and have ordered this book. Mainstream media’s Ted Koppel offering this information surprised me, so I vetted Koppel. He is an established member in an extremely authoritative organization, according to the source, Bilderberg.org. IMHO, this direct connection solidifies the information, and assists me in my prioritization.
The same basic “Prepare for this” information has also arrived via our local electrical cooperative, in our monthly newsletter, which I typically toss without a second look. Upon retrieving this publication from the mailbox, a very splashy Front page article was informing electrical co-op “Members” of a future with undependable electrical power. The article described, in depth, the issues with the power grid from a national level, that interferes with the co-op’s ability to provide local power. The article also highlighted an absolute lack of any type of assistance from .gov, and promoted to their “Members” the importance of developing an immediate plan B for these future “frequent” occurrences. Interesting to note that the article did not even use the tone of a “probable” occurrence.
Our electrical Co-op provides service to mostly rural areas, and has been prone to a few outages a year, so we are already well prepared, and then some. With both of these extremely credible sources communicating the same message, at the same time; I have adjusted my focus accordingly. Hope this helps others to do the same.
Enjoying prepping and reading this great blog –
The solar event of 1859, Carrington, fried telegraph wires, barb wire on fences, and leaded glass windows. An EMP/solar eruption would fry your solar panels, cell phones, land phone lines, the wiring in your/my house, TV, and the electrical motors in your frig./freezer. Only those items in a Faraday cage are safe. Your bank accounts and credit card readers will be ruined.
But do not let this stop anyone from buying solar because there are so many other SHTF events where solar power will provide much needed power. As an electrical engineer I understand the problem of power surges such as an EMP and I still sunk a lot of money into solar power because I know there are so many other types of SHTF events where electrical power will be beneficial. Buy surge protectors such as from Midnite and other companies. Life is not without risk.
Be well all.
@No joke, your statements are very true. While there may be extraordinary circumstances that may ‘fry’ one’s solar PV system, having taken precautions such as the surge protectors you mention (of which I have many integrated into my own system) may be enough to keep it going…
No joke you have it right, I was living in Colorado in 1988 we were not home and had a huge thunderstorm and the front range in Colorado if famous for lighting hits. Came home to find house without power, rest the main breakers to discover a few things working light etc, and then discovered major some appliances, microwave, cordless phone, Tv, even some ground fault switches would not reset and were black around the plug in on the switch or a couple that were partially melted. After beginning to get an idea what had happened an electrician and insurance adjuster verified my suspicion, it was evidently a lighting strike very close to the home and the lighting entered the home wiring through the ground side of my electrical home wiring and anything connected was subject to being fried even though it may have been turned off, or had inline fuses which burnout but after the charge had already traveled through them. My biggest blessing is that the house did not burn down. The electrical protection for the home and equipment were no match for the speed and size of the electrical charge that passed through all them and were fried. I was lucky the home insurance covered all the replacement for appliances, wiring, etc. I later talked with some electrical engineers who simply said that nothing currently on the market and being cost effective could have prevented that incident. We as a nation live with I believe to great a reliance of modern Technology and I am not a proponent of having a dependence that any of that technology might still be operative after a major natural or man made EMP event here. Hope and plan for the best but prep for the worst case and maybe thrive.
In November 1965 I was teenager working part-time in a “Drug Store” after school. Back in the day drug stores had soda fountains and weren’t the big chains they are now days. I was working the night the northeast was plunged into darkness, when the power grid starting in Canada began to shut down. It had a cascade effect and soon about 80 million people were w/out power.
We soon sold out of the big old 2-D cell flashlights, the the smaller ones, then the small ones and all the batteries in the store. Next dinner candles and finally we sold out of the last boxes of birthday candles. People were coming into the store begging for anything that could provide a a source of light. People even tried to buy the flashlights we were using. They were becoming angry. Finally the boss said lock the doors. We stayed hidden in the shadows until the boss let us go home.
This society has a real short memory.
I remember that! I was trying to do my homework in the dining room by the light of a single candle.
Also remember dealing with the outage in 2003, Just a couple of weeks after we moved into our house. No stored water, no alternate methods of cooking. It was pretty tense. Luckily for us, it only lasted 1 day. My kids were out much longer.
@Willy, Thanks for your real-life example. Most people (today) don’t understand how things can turn to $hit – real quick… as you exemplified when you said the boss told you to ‘lock the doors’… People today have not been truly tested to the degree of desperation, and therefore (coupled with past history) I believe that we would be in deep doo-doo when that time comes…
This was just a few miles outside a major New England city. I waked home to my house and parents already had the kerosene hurricane lamps lit. We always kept them in the basement above my father’s workbench. We had heat because the natural gas line ran by our house. My mother always cooked on the gas range. She’d turn the oven on to high and shut the kitchen door to warm that room. Lived thru several hurricane’s the same way. My father grew up on the farm. He’d tell me to keep the milk and butter cool they would lower in a bucket down into the well.
Our electrical provider has already hardened their control centre and are doing the same with their transmission stations and distribution stations. Of course its a long slow process. Not sure what percentage of their equipment is hardened. They’ve not said anything about it to the public. I have an “insider” who has kept me updated as to the goings on with our grid.
Still prepping for doing without. Luckily I lived for some time overseas after high school in a small European mountain village that had neither electricity nor running water. It was such an education. Still so thankful to have hot water on tap.
I remember going to fetch the water from a public well, walk back to the house, make a small fire on the cook house floor and wait for a small container of water to be heated. Then I’d stand in a washtub and try to bathe as best as I could. Then toss the tub of water out the window into the garden. We may be going back to that.
In the meantime, I’m compiling information about 19th century ice houses, shoemaking, food preservation etc. Next step would be to get materials and practice these methods.
Hope we never have to deal with this scenario.
So Ken, How do I order a copy of Lights Out for you to get credit?
One way, and the easiest, is to click on the book title in the first paragraph above. It will take you directly to Amazon and will give ‘credit’ to Ken, although I don’t think you will have any way to verify this on the Amazon page. This link back to Ken from Amazon will be good for 24 hours. If in the meantime you click through to Amazon from another website then this link goes away, unless of course you already ordered and paid for the book.
I don’t agree with the premise in this scenario. Let me try to explain or convince you why. I have worked at two electric utilities and the people who do the hard work are good at what they do. Within minutes of a power outage the linemen and their support people will be working to fix it.
There is a plan, multiple plans so that time and effort isn’t wasted and depending on the problem that power is restored to essential customers first then the larger population and finally the outlying customers. Regardless of the cause or the damage to the electric grid this WILL happen and power will be restored. In the worst case scenario limited power will be restored and over time all power will. There is no other possibility. They aren’t going to give up, they won’t be killed by an EMP and they will do their job.
I know too that often the scenario is described as the entire grid burned out. Well that simply isn’t possible with any event that would leave human and animal life intact. Worst case is that all the weak links will “burn out” or “open”. This open circuit will prevent damage to the rest of the components.
That means 99.99% of the power lines will be untouched and look and function exactly as they did before the event. Ditto for transformers and generators and all components. The linemen will replace the fuses or connections etc. that were the weak links in the system in a methodical and pre-planned manner and bring the system online.
It is indeed possible that all service won’t be corrected in a timely manner or if repaired won’t be powered for operational reason. Depending on the total scope of the damage the process may take awhile. But that is far from the scary scenario of total grid down for months to years.
There is also the oft repeated special high voltage transformers made in China with no spares. True enough some of these do exist but they are only in power generation facilities and then ONLY in new power generation facilities.
For example the transformers and generators at Boulder dam are the same ones installed back in the 30’s when the facility was completed. There are a handful of these special transformers. BUT it is likely/probable that they won’t even be damaged. Transformers are inside of steel boxes with connections on the outside. These transformers are extremely robust, they are not ‘wired’ inside the ‘wiring’ is literally a thick copper bar or strap and not ‘wire’ as we think of it. I have seen some that is about ¼” thick and 1” wide. This doesn’t burn out easily.
However the connection between the transformer and it’s input/output is not that robust. It is the weak link and if there were a huge current surge that link would burn out ending the current flow and saving the transformer.
Certainly a worst case EMP scenario won’t be a picnic but I do not think it will be a life ending event that people often describe.
Well, I hope and pray you are right but supposed tests results suggest otherwise and industry experts have authored and paraded before industry and govt panels suggesting the extreme opposite. You are alone in your synopsis.
@GoneWithTheWind, I have to disagree with you. I too work in the utility field, specifically with the protection and controls of high voltage transmission. While what you say is true at a more local distribution level 4.16KV-13.8KV it does not hold true for high voltage transmission and generation. Lead time for a new GSU (generator step up transformer) which every power plant needs is 6 months to 2 years depending on the size and type. Another example would be a 500KV bushing, lead time for a new one is greater than 30 days.
We are vulnerable I have no doubt. I know one engineer that can shut off a particular municipality from his cell phone. Despite NERC and FERC (A major part of my day to day work is to do the maintenance that make transmission and generation plants compliant) most never change their default passwords to control their systems. Even if they were compliant this isn’t difficult to get around (I have a lot of customers that forget their passwords and I have to get into the system to reset them.)
A cascading failure is very likely, whether it caused by EMP, CME, Sabotage, or just by accident. The initial source does not have to be that powerful, it just has to happen in a couple key locations in a short period of time.
I once saw a Nuke plant have to scram it’s reactors because of a squirrel. Like I said this is how I make my day to day living and my confidence in the grid is so low I have invested 1000s being capable to power my home off grid (that was mentioned in the earlier post of what I did for preparedness this week).
It’s not a matter of utility workers doing their jobs. It a matter of not having the supporting infrastructure for them to do their jobs. The high dollar transmission supply system is more like our grocery store’s just in time inventory system. Except the components are not even made until the order is placed. Because of the cost for these components there are not many spares out there sitting around. The degradation of social order will happen in 3 days or less in a large black out event making it even more difficult to provide the supporting infrastructure needed to restore the grid.
e52rgr75, Thank you for sharing your unique insight. It encourages me to ‘double-down’ on my own off-grid PV system ;)
Yeah I feel a little vindicated. Reading this book right now and it mentions the exact examples I referred too. Yay me!
I’m in agreement with you on crews safety to do repairs.
We had a hurricane/tropical storm hit our area of The Big Island a year ago.Poles snapped in half all over.Power lines laying on the ground every where.We lost power within hours of the storm hitting and didn’t get it back for a week.Some areas were out for a month.The problem was junk trees toppling over taking the poles and lines down.What a mess!
Fortunately the town 25 miles away was ok so stores and gas stations were open for business.
It only took some people in the area 24 hours to turn feral,angry, and violent.Looting and stealing from neighbors started the night of the storm.Generators would be stolen off of front porches while running!
It got so bad that the Gov. passed an emergency law making any theft in the area a felony with mandatory jail time.
Angry people attacked the power line crews while they were doing repairs!Cops were assigned to the crews as escorts for security.
The hardest hit areas also lost their water supply because the generators running the water pumps ran out of fuel.The National guard was brought in to help clean up and maintain order.
I ran a generator twice a day for about an hour to keep the ref. and freezer cold.Charge phones and laptops.Did laundry at that time too.(Had enough fuel for months then would of converted to propane.)
People were running generators all day so they could watch TV!IDIOTS!!
Most folks were pretty decent.Just the scum came to the surface and caused havoc.
We got to test our preps that week.Good feeling to being prepared.
Two interesting observations during that time.Saw a lot more neighbors talking to each other and a lot more kids playing outside.
The other was the total disconnect of many people who lived in town who were not affected by the storm.Very little empathy for the thousands who were suffering with no power,water,ice,gas,roads blocked,houses damaged.
A few good people stood up and helped from town but most just went about their lives oblivious to the suffering just 25 miles away…
I also have an electrical background and believe a lot of circuits will fail. Anything with an ic chip will be fried. When assembling electronics you have to ground yourself out on a static table or just the static in your fingertips will fry the ic which is what is inmost electronics. Years ago vaccum tubes were used instead which would survive an EMP. The other way is to shield it. My fear is what happens to nuclear powerplants if an EMP happens??? Scary stuff!!! People talking about power being out as being bad but what about having 61 nuclear powerplants doing the China syndrome. It may destroy the world let alone the USA. My worst fear!!! Other than that we could rebuild. Super transformers from China would take awhile to make, I saw a substation transformer go up once it looked like a small nuke. All I can say is God bless the USA!!!
PS, buy a Geiger counter and potassium iodine tablets!!!
And gas masks with CBR filters!!!
@GWTW, I have a question about the linemen. Do they already have a plan setup and practiced for a total grid down situation? Because after a major grid down event it is likely that all communication will be down too. So the linemen will have to act upon the event independently without management from up above. I’m sure that when the lights go out that will be their signal to head into the shop and get orders. But once they’re sent out into the field to take care of the lines don’t things need to be coordinated and timed accordingly so other linemen in other sections of the line don’t get electrocuted? Cell phones and radios will most likely all be out of service when the power goes out. I’m just curious what their plan is, or if they even have one.
If it were as you describe then the problem would be more difficult. But it is in fact unlikely that either a man caused EMP or a natural EMP that ‘everything’ gets destroyed. This is the fallacy of the ‘big EMP’ theory. The best most effective EMP attack would require 24 individual nukes set off in a grid pattern over the U.S. and the best most effective scenario for this effort is that it would destroy 75% of the electrical devices that are unprotected. The EMP thing is not as easy as many would have you believe. If your two way radio was in the trunk of your car than it is in a faraday cage and most likely would be fine. If your home was on the backside of a metal building than it is likely that all of the electronics in your home would be fine. The pulse of energy is sudden and then it is overwith and it is highly directional, i.e. it affects things in a direct line of sight and is deflected by any metal or large non-metal objects in that line of sight. As for those special transformers from China, just like all transformers they sit inside of a faraday cage and would be unaffected. As for the examples people cite of transformers burning up that is from the heat that builds up due to hours of operation at 200% of rated capacity. All electric distribution transformers are over built and can handle 200% performance for hours before the temperature burns them out. In am EMP event there isn’t enough time to overheat and more importantly if the current flow was huge the connection to the transformer simply burns out opening the circuit and preventing further current flow into the transformer. Most likely if we had an EMP event all the transformers would be fine and all of the electrical distribution lines would remain intact. All that the linemen would have to do is replace the weak links that had burned out.
The all transformers in a faraday cage statement is only partially true. They are directly tied to the power grid through high voltage conductors. These penetrate the ground protection afforded by the steel box construction of the transformer. Basically it pipes any surge straight to the coils. The over rated construction of these transformers is associated to the current carrying capability not it voltage insulation properties. I really don’t know the viability of an EMP attack. But I do know that our grid is susceptible to a cascading event. And I do know that replacements for damaged equipment is 6 months to 2 years out. Any such event does not have to hit the entire grid. Just a few strategic points.
You might be right about the viability of an EMP attack,.. I wouldn’t know. I can tell you for a certainty that our grid is fragile, old, and overloaded. Whether it goes down for attack, accident, or natural disaster in the right locations it will be a long time before it gets back up. I would speculate how long that could be. I am only concerned that there is high probability it could be in excess of months when 3 days is enough for social order to collapse.
Truth be told I think a grid down situation is less likely than an economic collapse. And I do not think we will be living in a mad max apocalypse. But preparing for any event is the stance I take. None of us know what the future holds other than to say it just a matter of time until some disaster befalls us. EMP, economic collapse, yellow stone blowing its top, earth quake, flood…. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t lose sleep over it and I live my life, but I prepare just the same. Rant alert… I’ll shut up now.
Having lived off-grid for 3+ years, I found myself falling woefully behind on many of the latest technologies. During those years, and even today, off-grid veterans are not freaked out when the power goes out. We tend to be the only ones in the room with a working flashlight or headlamp. Home is where the supplies are: (batteries, spare bulbs, canned food, cookstoves and fuel, metal pans to heat up water and food. Living off grid means we are generally prepared to go without services for at least 72 hours. (Son, you’re on your own!)
When I lived in a large city, I had a handgun and 50+ rounds of ammo with me during blackouts along with work gloves, good walking boots and a stash of cash in small bills on my person and in a small pack. Of course I also had knives and pepper spray too. I fear the mob in a large city more than I do in the country where I now reside. Thus, I was more likely to be packing in a large city than my current situation.
Living off grid, you will find yourself using almost completely different items than you currently use in your home. I am getting a taste of that at present time as our house is being redone and i am staying in place “glamping” under my own roof.
last note: REI – good source of inexpensive LED headlamps at $19 per item.
Used to live off grid a lot, and you are spot on about off grid veterans don’t freak out when the power goes out. Strange enough, I live so remote that electric power didn’t reach most people in my area until the 1970’s and there still are some cabins off grid where people stay for the whole summer. They use alternate sources like propane refrigerators, solar, wind, generators, batteries or nothing. There is also a pioneer farm near me that is off grid and uses horses to plow their organic fields. These will be the ones who won’t feel much effect when the grid goes down, and being remote and away from large populations makes it safer than suburban and urban areas.
The scary part if it lasts a long time are the desperate people who will do anything when supplies stop coming.
will have to get a copy, funny how China is not a concern,
there is a 4 part video on utub that got me thinking is this possible.
Dragon Day — SHTF Movie(Cyber Attack) Pt.1
think about it, almost all electronics, are made in China
ever scary stuff and OH SO POSSIBLE
A few interesting and related media pieces:
Electronic Armageddon (National Geographic)
American Blackout (National Geographic)
One Second After
For those who are interested (or skeptical about whether or not our power grid is vulnerable), you might consider reading through the official “Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack” which has been presented to Congress.
The various report formats can be downloaded for free here:
…or if you want to pay for a ‘hard copy’ here…
Currently halfway through the book. What he explains is very sobering to read. Especially reading the comments from the worker bees who operate the systems. The ones in power are completely clueless.
Have enough fuel to run the generator for a couple weeks but much after that, I believe it would be risky. Not very educated with solar but learning much more thanks to forums like MSB. I am going to try to keep it simple when that time comes.
I have noted for years an area of the yard where the frost is always last to leave. I have constructed two, 20″ thick field stone walls parallel to this area in 2014 and intend to excavate the inside area next year which is between two existing structures. The goal is to construct an ice room / root cellar stabilized with stone and lined with 2″ thick foam board. One third of the cellar will be an ice room with drain and vents where I can stack block ice with each layer covered in sawdust. The remaining two thirds will be for stacking produce and food supplies.
The combination of ice room and root cellar is from researching both topics which generally are constructed alone or separate. Three doors will be constructed prior to entering the main room. I will be interested in monitoring the temperature of the main room in July, August and September which should tell me what I can store. I have been in a few root cellars which have stayed quite cold through the summer months in my area. I am going to re-visit this concept as it worked well with our ancestors for many years.
The main situation the book points out is the ‘incapables’ that Obama has surrounded himself with. Jeh Johnson was the worst possible choice for DHS. Jeh in turns surrounds himself with incapables also. There is a big difference between incompetent people and incapable people. Incomps can be trained to levels of competence. Incaps are just what the name implies: Incapable of learning, correction, orientation, or showing the slightest list towards effective leadership. That’s where we are, and dark is where we are going. Please become competent at coping with the results instead of incapable of grasping what is coming.
While the LDS are prepared as a church and society, there was one private company that responded quickly to get back to business after Katrina – Waffle House!
Their story of staying open until the storm hit and getting open again after the storm passed was such a marvel to watch that the Wall Street Journal did a feature story on the company and many of the senior management of the company were hired away by the Federal Government after Katrina to replace some of the incompetents at FEMA.
Some of the secrets of Waffle House included: Franchise ownership where the franchise owners were granted latitude to be creative on how they did business after the storm. (No micro-control from Corporate Headquarters telling them what they could/could not do) Limited Menu Options at low prices. Cash only until the banking and credit technology was back on line. More emphasis on reopening and feeding people good hot food at reasonable prices than making a lot of money. (Waffle House has always been doing this before the storm) With this combination of factors, Waffle Houses that were still standing were open up hours after the winds died down.
People who went down there to work marveled at the sight of an open restaurant. It also served as a lesson to bring with you Cash in large amounts of small bills in order to get something to eat while you are on the road. (Money talks and Bull$hit walks, Cash is King, Insert your favorite saying here)
While an EMP is definitely possible, I think the worst danger at the moment is from cyberattack. An EMP takes equipment and time, along with a great deal of planning. (My guess is that the gov’t is pushing preparedness for this because it’s already a reality and the event was stopped before it got to that point). A cyberattack, as has been mentioned, can be done by someone on a cellphone.
It wouldn’t take a months-long event to set this world back to the stoneage. The power would only have to be out across the grid for a day and all the monsters would emerge, looting and burning. A week and there wouldn’t be much left.
What gets me is that the rest of the world thinks they’d escape unscathed. The country that buys most of the world’s goods goes down, who buys their products?
And all the merchants that lived deliciously with her shall stand afar off, weeping…
Ted Koppel talks about freeze dried food but not lights. I recommend checking out WakaWaka solar lights – an affordable and versatile way to light the darkness – as proven being used in third world countries without electricity.
Info can be found on their site and purchased on Amazon.
Just ordered a copy of Lights Out as it was finally discounted. It will arrive next week. In the meantime I’ve watched a few You Tube pieces where Ted Koppel was interviewed.
CBS Sunday Morning show from Nov 1, 2015, had an interesting exchange during its review of the book:
CBS – What does the average family actually need to be doing? Do they need to be, as Ted Koppel has done, stocking up on water and freeze dried food?
Paul Stockton, former DoD official – I think those are very important measures. Average citizens need to be able to take care of their own families, and their own neighborhoods, and their own communities, and not assume that Uncle Sam is somehow going to magically bring in the cavalry and rescue them.
I think we can safely count on FEMA and other federal agencies, in a cyber-strike grid-down situation, to be focused on continuity of governmental operations first. And, given the limited stockpile of resources, only on COOP. Except for a few community based and charitable organizations I don’t think there will be much help available to the unprepared. And even they will not be out if violence reigns in the streets.
I think that Ted Koppel did just what he said. He heard the Prez, the SecDef, and the SecDHS all raise the issue of a massive cyber attack on our electrical grid; saw that the MSM ignored it; researched the probability of such an attack and the country’s ability to respond to the consequences; and then reported what he found out. He then took steps to prepare for his wife, children, and grandchildren. I imagine that when he says “freeze dried food and water” he means the full range of preps needed to survive at least a year.
I wonder how many of his former colleagues and those who interviewed him about his book have embarked on the preparedness journey.
Hardly anybody prepares. I have to confess that the Dollar stores make it really convenient to not. Wherever we go there’s one there. As a result when we pack for a road trip we leave off a lot of stuff we use to take because we know there is a Dollar store somewhere nearby. We have one within a minute or two drive from our house. If there were an event we’d be there in a heartbeat, albeit with everyone else in town. At least they wouldn’t suspect you didn’t need to be there.
Finished rereading Lights Out. Thought it would be somewhat dated as it came out five years ago and cyber issues move at warp speed. Nope. If anything, our adversaries are five years more capable and our grid has seen almost no improvement. That’s in either cyber or physical security.
And that’s with the President focusing on grid security in both 2019 and 2020.
Some recent pieces on this issue include:
There are a number of websites dedicated to this issue:
and, of course,
Here’s the latest from Dr. Peter Pry. He discusses current cyber threats.
His latest book Blackout Warfare: Attacking The U.S. Electric Power Grid A Revolution In Military Affairs is available through (Ken’s AMZN link).
Deeply discounted today on Kindle.
NB – Dr. Pry is an acquaintance; I don’t profit from the sale of his books.
That has been my speculation all along. Russia will take down portions if not the entire US power grid prior to making a move on the Ukraine as both a warning and a crippling of US response. The afterwards deny any involvement which will be hard to prove and it will be hard to convince many Americans they did it since they don’t trust or believe the US government right now.
We should be careful poking the bear since the once mighty eagle has now been turned into just a strutting, crowing rooster.