Without the grid. Retaining our Basic Utilities.
Podcast episode 060221
Published on June 2nd, 2021
Whenever we talk about the US power grid crashing many immediately assume that we’re breaking out our tin-foil hats to broadcast another fox newscast. However, bringing it back to reality a little when we talk about instances like what we witnessed on the East Coast with a pipeline that got shut down by electronic terrorists and essentially left the consumers in the dark. Although in that case, it was another utility, the underlying principles are the potentially the same. So the question is how do we, as individuals function if our local power grid were to go offline. With the modern world running at almost 100% of some form of electricity, we are left to wonder what exactly would happen to society, to our communities, and most importantly our friends and family.
Frank from New Jersey asks, how fragile is the US power grid? That’s a great question, we will cover some of that in today’s episode, primarily the thing to know is, it’s not.
Millie from Iowa asks, is life without power really that difficult? That’s a great stance however, most modern day life functions are based on the electrical power grid. Think about the traffic lights, gas pumps, and all of the things that we use every day, all day, are powered by electricity.
Tom from Georgia raises a great point. If alternative energies are so great, why isn’t there more competitors? Tom, that’s another great question. To be perfectly honest, I really don’t have an answer for that one. Although, I have seen a rise in smaller, local providers, the idea of a nationwide energy retailer for residential products just hasn’t happened yet.
Will from Connecticut asks, without any power, anywhere, wouldn’t the United States go back to the early 1800’s? The idea of the United States reverting back to the pre-electricity days is impossible. The concepts, and the abilities to create electricity still exists among the people in the community. Thinking about those folks early 1800s, late 1700s, who didn’t have the knowledge yet, of developing a form of electricity delivery, that’s really where the difference lies. In addition, one has to remember that there are utility companies that provide a hybrid form of generation today, using much of the technologies we talked about last week. So just because the grid goes dark, may not mean the consumers of a local area lose all power, all together.
Aimee from Michigan brings us a pretty tough one when she asks, in reality, what is the chances of a total grid failure? Well, what was the chance another pandemic could ravage the entire world again. Sure the chances are pretty small, but, why not plan for it and even if you’re wrong, your consolation prize is more money that you don’t have to spend on power. Again, Aimee, the chances are very remote, however many of the identified threats here today are really starting to pick up momentum, so, those odds are changing.
Greetings to all my friends (both new and old), to my wonderful family, my fellow Alaskans, and my fellow Americans, wherever you are. Welcome to the Alaska Outlaw podcast, I am the Alaska Outlaw, thank you so much for joining me this week. This week I hope to introduce you to a topic to consider to add to your preps. A plan for your preps without electrical power. In this week’s episode we need to consider an implosion of the US power grid. Without donning our tin-foil hats here, there are many more credible threats to our power grid today that couldn’t be imagined, even a short 10 years ago. Before we get after it today, I’d like to make sure that, for those of you who seek peace and harmony, or lessons in coexistence, be sure to check out the Alaska Outlaw Forn-sidr podcast at http://forn-sidr.akoutlaw.com. After 30 years of spiritual searching and discovery, I have arrived home. Home to the ideology of of my ancestors. I am a proud Germanic-Dane. Some good stuff for you there. Also, another second just to give a shout-out for our sponsors and affiliates:
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In today’s episode I want to introduce to you some “real world” threats against the US’s power grid, then, we’ll talk about what each of us “really” need to survive, and finally, we’ll talk about what we can do to protect ourselves, and our families from a threat from the loss of power. This is not designed as an exercise in fear mongering, more of an understanding as to why those who know become prepared, not as much for the whole conspiracy mantra, but because they know that these “threats” are real, and must be mitigated.
First, let’s think about the ways the grid could dark. To this point, let’s consider the substantial number of “above the ground” power transmission lines that are exposed to the elements all year. We also need to understand that there are just as many buried transmission lines, susceptible to shifting grounds and inadvertent digs that can sever them. There are a couple of key ingredients that we see glimpses of each time a natural disaster hits, but there are others as well.
- One of the biggies that has recently come to light is the idea of electronic warfare in the form of electronic terrorism. With the rise in computerized management of most of the power grid, this introduces a new level of threat which is still fairly new across the utility industry as a whole. Creating uncertainty with the power grid, can have a rippled effect on society as a whole. When security is breached on a utility, a lot of things happen:
- Financial support for the utility can wean, meaning that the utility conceptually go bankrupt, or worse. This can be particularly costly if there is a ransom involved.
- Instability with the grid can cause consumer loss, thereby further increasing a financial hit to the utility. Someone then has to pick up that cost, thereby increasing the costs for the remaining consumers.
- Should any of the power infrastructure become damaged, parts for repair could be a while coming as the funds were secured. This could effectively leave consumers without power for extended times.
- Internal sabotage or terrorism can result in damage to the infrastructure, and potentially extensive service interruptions. Whether inadvertently, or deliberate, the idea that someone who was either hired, or worked as a contractor for a utility, could create extensive damage. While this has been minimized, the rise in the use of contracting business to assist in the management of information technology, has created a slight sense of uneasiness among many in the security industry. Obviously, there are always individuals who are willing to compromise their integrity for a life of ease.
- Weather events. Now utilities have been battling Mother Nature for as long as they have existed. However, with the changing climate, and increased number of extreme weather events happening all over the world, the perfect storm is out there on the horizon somewhere. It really is a matter of time.
- We all witnessed the catastrophe that happened at Fukishima Daiichi power plant in Japan in 2011 when an earthquake struck, followed by a Tsunami that collapsed that part of the grid for weeks
- Ultimately the nuclear power plants have been fairly integrated into the US power grid, essentially opening a whole other threat level.
- The ripple effect is that during these massive weather events, crews have to be “on-site” to be able to repair the damaged sections. This may take time depending on weather.
- Natural Earth disasters. In many cases, large-scale disaster events damage the infrastructure each time an event happens. Add this to the increasing age of much of America’s power infrastructure, and you have a recipe for disaster to our delivered power.
- As mentioned above, the accident in Japan was caused by a large quake and Tsunami, for those of you in quake zones, this is something to seriously consider for longevity sake.
- Scaling limitations ignored. This one can be as dangerous as all the others to this point. When the lines are over-subscribed, then hit with an overload, bad things happen. This is a failure on the side of the utility, and mostly managed by regulatory groups, however, you’d be surprised, especially if the company is struggling fiscally. Ignored scaling limitations typically result in “brown outs” or “sags” when power delivered than an appropriate amount. However, if the local provider is oversubscribed, and seeing power drops, then, is struck by a huge pull from another close by grid, the results could drop power for both grids for an extended time.
- Terrestrial incidents. To date, there has never been a meteor strike to a nuclear power plant, so we’ve dodged that bullet so far. But, solar flares can cause a substantial interruption of services, and possibly a large amount of infrastructure damage. While they may not emit a high enough EMP to damage the computer electronics, the additional charges placed on open transmission lines could damage transformers, and throw fuses in both directions from the actual site. Some grids are not designed to back feed power, so the results could leave us without power for some time.
- These are “real world” possibilities, however, we can’t leave out the incredibly remote possibility of war on American soil. While the chance of this is so remote, I don’t even plan for it, we could be a long way away from the aggression and still be impacted by the ramifications.
While we’ve made these things out to be this one cataclysmic event, a collection of several of them on a smaller scale could have the same effect. One possibility could involve a cyber attack following a natural disaster creating a ransom-type event. This would seriously stall recovery efforts for all parties involved. Yes, that threat is absolutely real. While the threat is minimal, it is always out there, lurking.
Alright, enough of that negative stuff. I’m really wanting to stress upon you the need of alternative sources, especially depending on where you live, and the weather in that area.
The idea here is to be prepared to think about what would be the impact to your life, both daily, and long-term if the grid were to crash. Most Americans are prepared for a 3 to 5 day power outage. The idea that a power outage would be last longer than that might cause major disruptions in the lives of most Americans. Here in Alaska it’s a little different, and I would bet that any northern state where there’s substantial storms or the chance of substantial storms, they’re probably a little bit more ready for a longer-term outage.Today we’re talking about you, wherever you are. Let’s take the concept of our “fab five” to the next level and apply zero electricity to our “fab five” and see what we come up with.
- Clean air. Well, clean air, probably an air conditioner or ionizer or some other type of filtration system could be about the only thing really affected here. Got to remember we’re not talking about temperature control here, so I’m not talking about air-conditioning, we’re not talking about heating, we’re simply talking about fresh clean air, so for the most part very little impact on this.
- Temperature control and shelter. This one is big, in this section we have heating, we have air-conditioning, we have electrically adjustable shades, we have many different things that are going to try to alter the temperature within your shelter. In addition, you could have heating pads, heated clothing, so all kinds of temperature control here. In addition you also have hot water heaters and methods to warm water, maybe even an electric stove or something of that nature. This is probably where are you going to have the largest impact by not having electrical power from the grid, or from any source for that matter.
- Clean water. Most people don’t consider the impact that electrical power would have on your water system. The idea that the pumps that your municipality or your well requires to be able to pull the water up from down at the water tables up to and deliver it to your tap. Ultimately getting water delivered to the tap is going to be a concern when you don’t have power for an extended period of time. Now having said that those same types of pumps are going to be your waste water as well, so unless you’re on a septic system or some kind, there is still a dependency on power.
- Fresh food. So this is another big one, food storage, almost always requires electricity for a longer term storage. The idea that the product is delivered through stages between the producer and the consumer means that there are plenty of opportunities for food to spoil due to improper storage with the sustained loss of power.. In addition, storing it at your own home once it’s received by you then becomes another concern. Without some sort of root cellar or in cold weather storage you’re going to be hard-pressed to make sure that things stay fresh and usable.
- Protective gear. Other than the failure to keep a retail outlet, or manufacturing plant online, this section really isn’t impacted by a loss of power.
As mentioned earlier air shouldn’t be an issue. But, what about those individuals who are on some form of life support? What about the hospitals and long-term care facilities? This is the air we’re talking about. Now, while this may not concern us because we can breathe on our own, We’re not going to get into the rabbit-hale of that aftermath, suffice to say, that could have a ripple effect that will concern us later.
So, looking at the next item up in the importance list would be temperature control. Again, depending on what season we’re talking about, this too may not produce an immediate effect. It could potentially, be lethal. Again, depending on the weather, heating and cooling systems can be improvised, but the long term solution here could be more elusive than we expect.
The next item up is water. Water (depending on where you live) could be a difference between life and death, and could be either: harder or easier to get to. Without the power to energize the water pumps, the taps may run dry and, then following the slow use of the remaining sources of water (i.e., toilet tank, stored water, dew collection, and fresh rain water, it may become increasingly difficult to secure potable water.
The food preservation issue is covered in another site https://www.treehugger.com/fifty-buck-fridge-keeps-your-food-cool-without-electricity-4858457, suffice to say that casually looking to appliances that don’t use power, or are incredibly thrift with it, so as to run on solar panels or wind turbines. The other part of this discussion comes to preparing the food for consumption. We know from the archeological record that it was human’s harnessing the power of fire to prepare meals that harnessed the proteins that are provided by the cooking, as well as the easier digestion. These two factors allowed those early humans to develop larger, more complex brains at which to accomplish cognitive thought.
In almost every discussion about this topic we always come back to last week’s episode when we talked about “alternative energy sources” as being a part of our lives now, that way we’re better prepared for a cataclysmic hit to the US power grid.
We covered some ideas as to how you can work without the electrical grid, and now is certainly a great time to be researching these alternatives for you and your family. The internet (Mr. Google, what say you?) will be our friend in running down some great alternatives for our dependence on the grid.
As always my friends, I am humbled that you have taken the time to spend with us. I hope I have given you some food for thought that you consider alternatives to relying on the US power grid, in your overall survival plan. Remember, be safe out there, keep your head on a swivel…. Peace.