The power grid as we know it is destined to fail, if you believe the authorities. Who will be there to pick up the pieces and patch it back together?
Outgoing Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano issued an ‘open letter’ to her successor warning that a cyber or physical event that knocks out the power grid will occur – and it is not a question of “if” but “when.”
Notoriously known as “Big Sis” for her role at the Orwellian mega-agency, she claims the supposed ‘imminent’ event will pose challenges to all aspects of life, and make powering homes, providing food and facilitating transportation difficult. Napolitano seems so sure, one wonders how she knows that such a catastrophe is not only possible, but sure to happen, as she prepares to officially leave office September 6th.
ABC News reports: The outgoing Homeland Security Secretary has a warning for her successor: A massive and “serious” cyber attack on the U.S. homeland is coming, and a natural disaster — the likes of which the nation has never seen — is also likely on its way.
These are not Napolitano’s first comments on the subject; instead, they’ve been a frequent an unnerving talking point. Watch the video:
To that end, FBI terrorism experts – operating under the Homeland Security umbrella – are staging a massive emergency drill dubbed GridEx II [PDF] for grid takedown scenarios in November that will include North America-wide agency officials, including those from Mexico and Canada.
Emphasizing the fear of disruption on a scale “only hinted at” by Hurricane Sandy and 9/11, these administrators and experts claim an infrastructure attack “could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications.”
What is clear from both Hurricane Sandy, 9/11 and other events such as Hurricane Katrina is that the typical response to from governments is to soak up massive amounts of funding while hampering actual relief efforts through late and inept management of disasters. While anecdotal evidence like the FEMA office “closed due to weather” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and many aspects of the delayed and deadly Hurricane Katrina response make this travesty abundantly clear, a recent GAO report has made this conclusion official.
CYBER ATTACK LIKELY TO TAKE DOWN GRID
The nation’s outdated power grid has spurned expectations that it is vulnerable, which for some experts, seems to beg an attack.
House Democrats issued a report in May 2013 claiming not only that the power grid was vulnerable to cyber attack, but that it faced threats on a daily basis. One utility cited in the report incredibly [as in, without credibility] claimed that it faced 10,000 attempts at a takedown per month.
Rep. Ed Markey, who co-authored the House Democrat’s controversial Climate Bill in 2010 – that would have taxed carbon dioxide and imposed new regulations on many aspects of ordinary life – played to the dangers, stating “With one well-placed keystroke, Americans could be plunged into darkness and chaos through the damage to our electric grid.” Markey emphasized the the threat of attack by foreign armies, adding “Foreign enemies are employing Web warriors to attack our way of life, and it’s time that our actions respond to the potential threat.”
Now, security experts are warning that bank and utilities (with power grids chief among those utilities) could be targeted for take down by Syrian or Iranian hackers in retaliation for strikes on Syria (the New York Times and Twitter take downs have already been attributed to the Syrian Electronic Army).
A story hyping the threat even quoted the dreaded former Homleand Security chief Michael Chertoff, who has profited handsomely off of post-9/11 security measures, including Rapiscan body scanners whose implementation he lobbied for as a former security official in the wake of the attempted terror attack by the Underwear Bomber patsy.
“The line between national security and private security is eroding,” said Chertoff, founder of a Washington consulting company. “It is a reasonable concern to be prepared for the possibility of some kind of retaliation — asymmetric retaliation — if we take action in Syria.”
In 2009, the NSA – embroiled in an ongoing controversy over its illegal surveillance – was granted authority over US CYBER COMMAND which monitors cyber activity and conducts offensive strikes, as well as defensive maneuvers in a globalized and electronic world.
Another possibility for taking down the grid involves Electromagnetic Pulse weapons or EMP. Boeing and the Air Force U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory successfully tested an EMP missile over Utah last year as part of the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP).
QUI BONO? A NEWER, SMARTER GRID WAITING IN THE WINGS
A massive power grid failure would negatively affect almost everyone, for sure. But failure is expected, and there are those, as with all disasters, who stand to benefit from it – often via contracts and construction costs.
Under this scenario, “smart grid” and “green energy” proponents who are in the process of implementing smart meters and other features of the coming new system – which will tie massive amounts of analyzable tracking data to power usage at the household and even appliance level – could indeed benefit from the rebuilding.
In fact, the current grid is considered inadequate for the needs of the designed ‘intelligent’ power grid that will facilitate two way communication and advanced monitoring, much less electric-powered vehicles.
The National Grid company website explains:
A smart grid is an “intelligent” electricity distribution network that uses two-way communications, advanced sensors and controls, advanced meters, and computers that can help reduce customers’ energy use, improve the efficiency and reliability of the electricity grid, facilitate the connection of distributed generation facilities to the system, and optimize the integration of renewable energy systems.
It also includes in-home energy management systems and intelligent controls in appliances […] We expect the Smart Grid to play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, especially in how it can facilitate the connection of large amounts of renewable energy—more than is possible with the current electricity distribution system.
It is also expected to be an important enabler for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles, two promising technologies that can help dramatically reduce oil consumption. [emphasis added]
According to the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental group whose president attended to the 2012 Bilderberg meeting, this means new investments will be needed to fund the new infrastructure. And, course, people will have to agree to the new plans:
New investments are coming: An estimated $1.5 trillion will be spent upgrading our electric grid infrastructure over the next 25 years. But how should it be spent—building ever larger versions of Edison’s machine? […]
The alternative is building a smart, “green” grid that maximizes efficiency and reduces waste.
“This country is going to spend a ton of money upgrading the grid,” says Jim Marston, EDF vice president for energy. “The question is whether we just replace the old system or create a new one open to innovative, clean technologies.” [emphasis added]
Smart Grid: IBM Energy Efficient Smart Grids for a Smarter Planet
These statements and others like them make clear that for the newer, smarter grid to emerge (and allow the behaviorizing of society to accelerate), the old power grid must fall. With the widespread claims of frequent attempts at taking it down via a cyber attack, disabling these utilities would be believable enough, even if it weren’t clear who the real perpetrators were.
(Wink-wink 😉 Catch our drift? Probably the ‘terrorists.’)