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.
the cars and trucks may still work, but the electric gas pumps (on grid power) won’t.
It depends on the application. When you have a cooling fan bank of 20 fans, they turn on/off each individual fan.
Smaller banks, say 2~4 may have one VFD, switchable between more than one fan.
Motors can have a much lower efficiency outside their rated design point. It is be more cost effective in some cases to break up the service into multiple pumps. This also helps in a N+1 type redundancy that allows individual motor/service to be taken out of service while doing maintenance and keeping production up.
Most refinery service is designed for a specific flow rate. No only the pumps, but the separators, piping, reactors, etc all run at a set, non-varying rate for many services. There is not a need to vary, but a need to design the proper size head vs flow in the impeller and it runs there for a decade.
Like most industries, we meet current demand with some flexibility. But while the industry might produce ~5% of the current inventory on a yearly basis, they don't have the equipment, materials or labor for an order of magnitude increase. What industry does?
this is why having the large and midsize ones may not do people much good if their neighborhood ones cant be replaced.
And reality is a lot more than transformers will need replacing.
Can you point me to a decent technical evaluation that makes such a claim? I don't believe that amount would make any significant difference.
But how are we going to protect electricity production from Obama policies?
If you have an EMP event over the Eastern side of Houston (ship channel), that fries nearly every electrical device connected to the power grid, we wouldn’t be near restored for years.
And I copied and snagged the report, for future use...
oh definitely there will be other things besides transformers that need replacing no question. I’m just trying to get an idea of how the timeframe of how long it’d take us to replace most of the transformers working at this moment. I didn’t even think we had much capacity for the midsize or larger ones because prior discussions stated we get those mostly from overseas now.
“the cars and trucks may still work, but the electric gas pumps (on grid power) wont.”
That is absolutely true, and we will be stuck in place when our gasoline tank is empty (got water/food) but when the grid is finally fixed, the cars and trucks won’t be dead pieces of junk and that is a big advantage.
Also, if it’s an EMP attack, hopefully, part of the US will still work and maybe there will be a refining plant in that section.
You are missing the point that it takes a heck of a lot more than restoring the grid to restoring the gasoline supply.
“If you have an EMP event over the Eastern side of Houston (ship channel), that fries nearly every electrical device connected to the power grid, we wouldnt be near restored for years.”
That is true. I know the ship channel area.
I’m looking at it out my office window.
My point, if your truck burns to the ground, replacing the engine doesn’t replace a functioning truck.
Oh, wow, that's the first time Commander Riker awarded me an applause. I am honored.
That is an interesting map.
Well then, we can all be thankful for ethanol.
Any information in your research on the transmission of such an event through the DC ties?
I’ll be thankful I now own a horse.
you didn’t need to clarify, i understand the point.