Earlier this year, the United States Department of Energy released a report detailing the various threats to America's energy grid. In that report, the DOE assessed that there were 163 reported security violations of the country's energy grid in 2022. Included in that report was breakdown consisting of vandalism, physical attacks, or other "suspicious activities." That was the highest amount of threats to America's energy grid since 2020, when the incidents shot up to 94. That's about a 73 percent increase in serious threats to America's energy grid in two years.
Think of the country's power grid as its central nervous system upon which signals --i n this case, energy -- travel instantaneously. Like your body's nervous system, the national power grid has clusters of synapses, called substations, which transmit and amplify the energy coming from the power plant and distributing that power to the various end points along the grid. Those substations keep every aspect of America electrified. Attack those substations and you could throw large chunks of our country into darkness.
Assaults from all directions, both foreign and domestic.
In 2022, numerous attacks occurred at several power substations. On Thanksgiving Day in 2022, an Oregon substation was vandalized. A couple of weeks later, in early December, two North Carolina substations were damaged by intentional gunfire. The result was that 45,000 North Carolinians were left without power for days in the middle of winter. A similar attack occurred in Washington State on Christmas Day of 2022. Thousands of Washingtonians were left without power.
There are multiple other examples that indicate something serious is going on. Scores of malign actors, whether they be terrorists, criminals, or anarchists, have all identified America's power grid as a key source of weakness. Cripple some substations and they could not only throw tens of thousands of Americans into darkness, but the attackers could also cause billions of dollars in damage.
If the attacks on substations were severe enough, the loss of power could last days, even weeks, meaning that many vulnerable Americans could die in the dark. What's more, as we see whenever our creature comforts go away for a protracted time, parts of the country descends into lawlessness and chaos. Cut the power for a prolonged amount of time and you've turned America into an unstable, primitive nation. It really doesn't take long for a society to descend into a Hobbesian nightmare world of all against all.
What should shock everyone is how vulnerable our electrical grid. What should aggrieve Americans, all of whom are dependent on our vulnerable power grid for their basic existence, is how utterly indifferent to the threat that the U.S. government has been. There is an overall reluctance on the part of lawmakers and the managers of energy companies to address these escalating threats to the power grid, specifically to power substations, because it would mean an increase in costs for those of us who depend upon the power grid.
Of course, if a coordinated attack were to occur against these substations, the amount of money and lives lost would outweigh whatever savings consumers of energy in America would enjoy by the government and power companies' not having more fully secured the power grid's substations. It also strains credulity that the government would not force security enhancements to these power substations by investing tax dollars in the physical security of all of America's 55,000 power substations. Regardless of the cost, and considering how unconcerned federal and state governments are with wasting American tax dollars on less important programs, protecting America's national power grid seems like a paramount concern.
Doesn't take much to make it go haywire.
The Biden administration has asked for more than $6 trillion in his recent federal budget proposal. The money will be spent on things such as moving the United States away from fossil fuel dependency to less efficient and more expensive "green" energy products such as wind and solar. Biden claims to be committed to modernizing America's ailing infrastructure. Yet, for all the president's rah-rah about critical infrastructure and evolving America's energy production -- very expensive tasks with questionable results -- he has said little about defending against the real threats to America's power grid.
If Biden is going to spend trillions of tax dollars on pet projects that ultimately will have little value for Americans, why not spend a few million dollars to preserve and protect America's vital-yet-vulnerable energy grid? America is running out of time as threats gather. It might soon be running out of power.