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Power grid

Anyone who thinks America’s power grid is solid and not open to terrorist attacks, cataclysmic natural events, etc. has their head in the sand.

Several years ago, probably eight, I took one of my continuing education classes where the instructor spoke about an attack on a California electrical substation; not just any substation – but one that if it were to go down, would plunge three states into darkness.

Apparently, authorities found bullet casings around the substation from bullets fired at it. Fortunately, it did not work in that attempt.

But, several days ago Pinehurst, North Carolina was not as fortunate as their substation was damaged after a barrage of bullets damaged the facility casting 40,000 customers into darkness. reported, “The mayor of Pinehurst, North Carolina, John Strickland, said on CNN that investigators will have to determine if this was a targeted attack by domestic extremists, but he said it was meant to be destructive.

“This is clearly an act that was intentional, very forceful and an act of vandalism to create a situation where the citizens of Pinehurst and Moore County are lacking heat and other support services at the present time,” he said on “CNN Newsroom.”

The United States’ power grid has its beginnings approximately 50 years ago. According to three grids make up the power system in our country, “The United States does not actually have a national energy grid. There are three separate energy networks in the country’s power grid system, split into three regions. They operate independently of each other and exchange very little energy. The Eastern grid and the Western grid mimic the division along the Rocky Mountains (‘The Rockies’) while the state of Texas has its own electric grid.” reported, “The electricity grid is a complex machine in which electricity is generated at centralized power plants and decentralized units and is transported through a system of substations, transformers, transmission lines and distribution lines that deliver the product to its end user, the consumer. Since large amounts of electricity cannot be stored, it must be produced as it is used.

“According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. power grid is made up of over 7,300 power plants, nearly 160,000 miles of high-voltage power lines, and millions of miles of low-voltage power lines and distribution transformers, connecting 145 million customers throughout the country (EIA, 2016).”

Electricity in the United States is generated using a variety of resources and technologies. Most electricity is produced using conventional sources such as natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear.

The site states that renewable energy generates 20 percent of the U.S. energy supply, nuclear 20 percent, coal 19 percent and natural gas 40 percent.

So what does the grid and power have to do with us, Linn County? There is an attack on our power system from several entities – terrorists that would love to plunge our country into darkness, age of our power system, and natural events.

As customers of the power grid, we must have a plan B. Residents interviewed in Pinehurst, North Carolina said that no heat and no access to water once the power went off were the worst issues they dealt with in the outage.

Though it is not known, at this point, who shot up the substation, what is known is that we all must plan for the what-ifs of a power outage. Linn County is not immune to power outages – think about the huge ice storm in 2001, and other interruptions. Be ready, think ahead. We are the only ones that can protect our families for the long term; like they say, plan for the worst, and hope for the best.




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