Skip to comments.Lights out: House plan would protect nation's electricity from solar flare, nuclear bomb
Posted on 06/20/2013 7:49:53 AM PDT by LSUfan
Amid growing fears of a massive electromagnetic pulse hit from either a solar flare or a terrorist nuclear bomb, House Republicans on Tuesday will unveil a plan to save the nation's electric grid from an attack that could mean lights out for 300 million Americans.
Dubbed the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, the legislation would push the federal government to install grid-saving devices such as surge protectors to protect against an attack.
"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," said Rep. Trent Franks, the Arizona Republican who is offering up the bipartisan bill.
Electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, has come into focus because of fears the sun is pushing out unusually big solar flares that can disrupt the electric grid. Defense officials are also worried about a terrorist attack, possibly in the form of a small nuclear bomb exploded overhead.
"This is serious stuff," said former Pentagon official Frank Gaffney, who heads the Center for Security Policy. But, he added, there is a growing bipartisan consensus to protect the electric grid.
Any EMP attack could be damaging, said Gaffney. He cited a new Lloyds of London report that determined that the area from Washington, D.C., to New York could be without electricity for up to two years in a major solar flare-up.
The legislation will be introduced Tuesday by Franks and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a meeting of the House EMP Caucus. Officials said that the legislation, provided in advance to Secrets, will include information from a recent EMP commission report that "contemporary U.S. society is not structured, nor does it have the means, to provide for the needs of nearly 300 million Americans without electricity.''
Gaffney told Secrets that there are some 300 huge electric transformers around the nation that control the grid and that have to be protected. "You are basically talking about surge protectors, of a somewhat exotic kind, but it is a means of interrupting the pulse," he said.
I’ve got a couple of non functional units that I use for this purpose.
well do we have the ability to replace them within a month or two with new ones we build here?
I'd start with business first. Virtually every industrial motor 5hp+ has an electronic VFD on it (variable frequency drive). Electronic controls pump gas, supply well water, run refrigeration, sewerage treatment plants... Without food, water, and transportation with sewers backing up, dealing with personal computers seems rather trivial.
Not that hard.
The solution has been around for ten years now. Still expensive.
I suppose the government could deny the patent renewal in a few years to nosedive the cost.
The development in this field has been steady, despite the costs.
This has not been my experience. While I have installed 20,000 HP VFD's, they are extremely rare.
I would estimate more than 90% of the pumps and fans in chemical plants, pipeline pump/compressor stations and refineries do not have VFD's.
No. We could not replace every small transformer in 5 years. Every being key.
Why all the concern? Won’t FEMA be along with a flashlight, MRE, a bottle of cold water a warm blanket and a Obamaphone withing 48 hours of such an event? Thats what many even on FR seem to think.
Besides, it's like a border fence; if you despair that erecting a fence at the highest traffic point won't stop all crossings instantly, if you pee and moan that it will take years to protect the border, the default is no fence, no control, and ultimately, no country.
I think we should have transformers (and other essential eq, of course) stored in Faraday cages around the country. It takes a long time to get one built and it will certainly be a longer time if a large part of the world was affected.
Keep in mind, the groups like the Reliability Council are have been making upgrade recommendations and utilities have been upgrading towards those for decades.
I’m not recommending nothing be done, I’m recommending congress isn’t the one to do it.
I compare their efforts to upgrading your 4x4 truck to become a swamp buggy. Spending a lot of dollars on only one tire, regardless of how great that tire is, will accomplish absolutely nothing expect spend your money and enrich the tire seller. No additional function was gained.
Bravo sir! LOL!
Spare Transformers or the existing ones? And if the transformers survive, but all the other equipment fails, what have you accomplished?
Thread about EMP or nuclear blast over United States.
I wrote an article about this months ago, so I am posting it here. Don’t kill the messenger, I am reporting scientists in this area, plus a study for the government also done by experts.
SOLAR FLARE VS. NEMP ATTACK (Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse)
I received an email about the possibility of a solar flare wiping out civilization during these next several years when occurrences of greater mass ejection will occur. We are in that greater mass ejection period right now. The email was a freak out, the sky is falling, kind of presentation, and, as usual, an NEMP (Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse) attack was thrown in, too, as causing the same destruction. But, the information was incorrect about both occurrences, anyway.
Some time ago I researched solar flares and NEMP attacks to determine the difference between the two if there was one there are differences.
Report by scientists in electromagnetic energy: I didnt save these scientists discussions of the differences, but I remember them since they werent difficult to remember, they made sense, and made a definite impression on me due to the misinformation people have about these. The report was by scientists in electromagnetic energy, not Doomsday Preppers. Below, when considering a NEMP, is the link to the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. Part of that report, beginning on page 114, are the results of testing cars and trucks by bombarding them with electromagnetic pulses those experiments apply to both solar flares and NEMP attack as people think a solar flare will destroy a car/truck.
Most people, I think, lump these two occurrences (solar flare, NEMP attack) together because it seems no one thinks to consider the two separate. When one thinks about it, they probably would be different in some way because one is nature and one is manmade.
Lets consider the differences, starting with nature:
According to scientists: The sun throws off a mass of really hot stuff to put it mildly. Here is the important part: it goes in a STRAIGHT LINE when it is thrown away from the sun. Anything in that straight line is going to be hit. Astronomers can calculate where that straight line is going, so they know if its going to hit earth or come close to earth, or never coming even close. These ejections happen from any part of the sun they also vary in power and there is a scale to rate them. The possibility, maybe a slight possibility, is there that a strong straight line ejection could hit earth and we are in a time of stronger ones.
According to scientists, if one did hit earth, its electromagnetic properties send it straight into our electric grid. Wow, it missed your car, yes it did. It missed anything not plugged into the electric grid. Picture an arrow going into the electric grid it doesnt touch anything except that grid. It would fry your TV plugged into the wall. If you had a TV not plugged into the wall, it would be fine. If you have any appliance plugged into the wall that you arent using, for precaution right now, unplug it. It doesnt need to be plugged in, you were just too lazy to unplug it the last time you used it, so unplug it now since you have a reason. Nothing unplugged needs to be in a Faraday Cage as it wont be harmed. Cars/trucks/any method of conveyance not plugged into power will be okay. If you are so unlucky to have a Prius car plugged into power to recharge its battery at the time the flare hits power lines, it will be fried.
If you start at page 114 of the Commission report on a NEMP attack, you will find that test of cars/trucks being hit with electromagnetic charges, and very little happened and what did happen to a few was a nuisance factor rather than destruction of the vehicle. A few cars stopped running but ran again immediately when started again. So, even if a solar created electromagnetic pulse did hit a car/truck, they are still okay. Further on in that report, police cars and emergency vehicles (ambulances/fire trucks) were tested and the only problem was a mobile computer used to input data had to be rebooted and it was fine. The majority of people think cars and trucks will be destroyed and that is not the case. Why havent more people read this report? It is 181 pages long with an Appendix after that. Can people not concentrate long enough to read 181 pages so they ignore the whole thing?
The underground transit in New York City and other cities that are plugged in to power, will be fried.
Huge power grid transformers will be destroyed and cost a fortune so companies dont keep many on hand I read a figure of there are about 300 of those in this main power grid. It will take years, I read a figure of two years, to get enough of those made and here, plus other repairs to get power back on. It will be bad and preppers will do better than any other group to get through that period. People are going to die for many reasons, so many reasons there isnt room to list them, but you all know what those reasons are hospitals cant function due to no power, no medicines, water, food, warmth, cooling, money, jobs, everything disrupted due to the grid down.
But, again, everything is not lost as those items not required to be plugged in, are still working the destruction is limited to the grid. When you hear someone say nothing is going to move except horses after a solar flare hits earth, you will know that is incorrect. Something will have to be devised to distribute gasoline but government and the military will figure that out. Hmm, a huge amount of the gasoline used in this country is refined in the area around southeast Houston, in Pasadena and Baytown, and Texas City just down Hwy. 45 south of Houston. Those will be locations on the list of important places to get power working as fast as possible.
NASAs opinion about solar flares:
NASA says a solar flare could not be strong enough to do more than disrupt satellites, likely affecting cell phones and GPS around the world, for a period of time. They dont think one would hold together long enough to hit earth. Their opinion differs from scientists in the electromagnetic field. Who to believe? Perhaps history is the best clue: we know power was knocked out in Canada and a part of the US from a flare a number of years ago and it took time to repair/replace the damage to that grid and one many years ago took out telegraph capability that was our most advanced technology then.
Our government is more concerned about a NEMP attack being the more likely threat. I expect that is why a commission was formed to investigate the destruction from an attack rather than one studying solar flares. They can identify enemy states right now that want our destruction, but a strong solar flare isnt on the way.
A nuclear blast in the upper atmosphere sends SCATTERED electromagnetic impulses over a region it doesnt go in a straight line as the solar ejection did its more like an umbrella effect, pulses thrown out over a limited region. The size of the region is determined by how strong the nuclear blast is and the height of the blast and where it is in the country. The higher it is, the larger the region affected. We know from the car/truck tests, that vehicles will still run even if they are running at the time of the blast. Their prophesied failure is so engrained in preppers and others that I doubt many will accept those tests as valid. You can read how they did the tests and decide for yourself start at page 114. Then, read the whole report and learn from it. You should read the biographies in the Appendix of the ones on the commission to determine your faith in their expertise to produce this report.
Parts of the grid, then, does go down in a NEMP. There is one other grid in this country and its separate from that main grid, and that is the Texas grid. I studied this years ago, pre-2000. Our grid for us Texans, is separate, plus we sell power we dont need to Mexico so there is a physical line connection to Mexico. If Texas is outside the region limit of destruction, its grid should still work. If it is inside the destruction region, it will be fried just as the other parts of the main grid that is in the damaged zone.
This NEMP regional destruction is limited by the distance from ground zero where it went off (guess I should say it is sky zero instead of ground zero), how strong it is, and how high it is. According to scientists, a NEMP attack on the east coast will not destroy all the way to the west coast (and north/south would be included in that). If a country, such as North Korea, exploded such a weapon, the closest coast to them to hit us is the west coast so the electrical destruction would die out before it got to the east coast.
The worst area to explode one is over central USA. One report used Kansas as the worst location to affect more of the country. I didnt read it would cover the entire US but it would also depend on the strength and height of the nuclear blast to determine the limit of destruction from over Kansas. However, that being the middle of the country, the electric grid going down in the middle of the country, could possibly prevent the west and east coast part of the grid from functioning.
If such an NEMP attack happened here, remember it is regional and that means the rest of the worlds power would keep working. Our capability to repair damage would increase rapidly if the rest of the world was operational.
Here is the link to the Commission report (a pdf file you can save on your computer if you want.)
I recall this was covered by the scientists and they discounted the value of them for either situation. In a solar flare situation, it likely wouldnt be needed if the devices werent plugged in and the pulse is in the electric grid. Lovers of Faraday Cages will likely dispute this reasoning because they have them or love them or make them for sale. If you feel safer having your devices in a Faraday Cage right this minute, use it.
Recall the car/truck test of magnetic pulses doing no damage, or just nuisance malfunction to cars/trucks even if they were running. If they are not destroyed with all the electronic components they have, why would smaller devices with less electronic parts in them be affected?
If you have a Faraday Cage or want one, use it to be on the safe side to make yourself feel better. You should have your devices in there now as we might not know when a NEMP attack would happen. We should have notice before a solar flare gets here.
There is no doubt a solar flare hitting earth is different in result that a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack.
And hundreds and hundreds of commercial and private aircraft.
So every pump, motor, fan, switchgear, relay, control system, instrument, etc is that was making gasoline is going to be fried, and you still think we will be making gasoline in any significant quantity even a year later?
The chemical plants where I worked were full of them, even on small motors. They paid for themselves in power savings, control, and motor sizing.
I would estimate more than 90% of the pumps and fans in chemical plants, pipeline pump/compressor stations and refineries do not have VFD's.
They're wasting a lot of power.
I have no idea how long it would take to get a gasoline plant on line, I’m saying it would be a priority.
Cost estimates to harden the grid are $300-$500 million. Chump change. Obama is spending $100 mil on his grand America Sucks tour part three.
The West is also separated from the East. All have multiple DC link electrical connections.
forget every, what’s our ability to mass produce small transformers here? I mean they are everywhere so I’m guessing we have a fair amount of ability to produce them, but I have no idea how long it would take to replace a large percentage of the existing ones.
this is why having the large and midsize ones may not do people much good if their neighborhood ones can’t be replaced.