How Would We Survive if the United States Lost its Power for 18 Months?


Transmission substation


This topic is particularly compelling given the current state of unrest in the World.

Herb Whittall, a passionate follower of Vero Beach utility issues, who now serves as Chairman of the Vero Beach Utility Commission, suggested this subject matter. He is also a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Indian River Metropolitan Planning Organization Advisory Committee.

Mr. Whittall is a contributing writer to the Let’s Fix This County website. He is a friend of Stephen C. Wilson, author of the website. Let’s Fix This Country “looks at the way the Nation has lost its ways and strives to come up with common sense for what might best be done. ” In so doing, it believes “the United States is beset with a multitude of problems, aggravated by a divisiveness unequaled in our lifetimes.” (Source: Let’s Fix This Country Website.)

The meat of this article is taken from the Let’s Fix This County website, although summarized and rearranged, with the edition of editorial comment. Please access the site and subscribe at  It will be a valuable asset to your on-line reading.

Who, with all our Federal departments, agencies and commissions would have ever thought two commercial aircraft would fly into the World Trade Towers and one into the Pentagon? Most would concur the thought was unimaginable.

There is another threat of greater proportions, which is imaginable.

That would be if cyber attackers “took out” just nine of the Country’s 55,000 electric transmission substations – four in the east, three in the west and two in Texas.

This would cause a coast-to-coast blackout, a conclusion of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last March, a conclusion completely ignored by the national media.

Blacked out cityscape

Blacked out cityscape

In an “after-report” by FERC, it claimed that if the enemy took out the nine substations “the United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”

(The United States grid consists of 3,200 utilities, which deliver power to over 2.7 million miles of power lines that Bloomberg/Business Week called “the largest machine in the World.)

What would happen if the United States had no electric power and a period of darkness for 18 months, or longer?

– Air traffic and train controls would cease. Upon the occurrence of the blackout
airplanes in the sky would have to find some way to maneuver and accidents would

– Trucks delivering food would no longer be able to do so.

– Energy, pipelines and water pumps would shut down.

– There would be no cell or Internet service.

– Banking systems such as ATM’s would cease to operate.

– People would have no money; no food and panic would lead to violence.

American’s have no conception of the consequences of such a catastrophe.

In 2009 President Obama called this cyber threat “one of the most serious security challenges we face as a Nation.”

But since then nothing has been done.

There was a Senate Bill S3414 aimed at giving water facilities and electric utilities incentives to meet cyber-security goals but that bill was abandoned after a Republican filibuster blocked the bill based largely on “adamant resistance” by the US Chamber of Commerce.

Even without a cyber-attack such as described above, a nuclear-tipped missile designed to detonate at a high altitude interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field would generate an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would play havoc with electrical equipment on the ground.

Solar flares, too, would produce an EMP on Earth from 93 million miles away.

Thus we are dealing with two types of risks: Natural (e.g. solar flares) and man-made (cyber attacks).

Since 2009 when President Obama called the cyber threat “one of the most serious security challenges we face as a Nation,” why has nothing been done and no actions by Congress or the White House have been taken to do so?

If you think this is too far fetched, don’t forget the cyber-attack in November 2014 by “The Guardians of Peace” (GOP) on Sony Pictures Entertainment who claim to have taken over 1,000 terabytes of data. White House officials indicated it was a “serious National security matter.” And we will never forget 9/11.

On Tuesday, January 13, President Obama spoke before the National Cybersecurity and Communications Center indicating cyber-threats pose an “enormous challenge and the US must be “upping its game.” But these comments dealt with cyberattacks relative to data breaches. There was no mention of giving water facilities and electric utilities incentives to meet cyber-security goals.

Once again Please access the Let’s Fix This Country website and subscribe at

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