U.S. power grid should be a top economic concern

Research: Vulnerable U.S. power grid should be a top economic concern



President-elect Donald Trump may have a plan to make America great again by reinvigorating the nation’s manufacturing economy but a group of researchers is warning that there’s a major threat to the U.S. economy totally out of his administration’s control.

According to researchers at the University of Cambridge, solar storms capable of knocking out power to vast swaths of the U.S. could cost the nation’s economy more than $40 billion for every day the power is down.

That’s the figure for one of the most extreme scenarios considered by the researchers, wherein 66 percent of the U.S. population would be without power.

But even much smaller power disturbances caused by solar storms could cause significant economic trouble.

If a solar disturbance knocked out power to only the nation’s northernmost regions, the researchers concluded, it would cost the U.S. economy more than $6 billion for every day down. In another scenario where just under half of the nation would be without power, losses could total more than $16 billion per day.

The researchers also looked at which parts of the economy would be hardest hit by widespread power outages. They learned that the manufacturing sector would feel the most pain, followed by government, the financial services and insurance industries and property.

Edward Oughton of the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School, one of the researchers on the project, said he was surprised that this research wasn’t already out there “given the uncertainty surrounding the vulnerability of electrical infrastructure to solar incidents.”

While he’s right that there’s pitiful little research about how a solar flare could cause damage to the U.S. economy, the federal government has thoroughly studied how a foreign enemy or terror organization could cripple the nation with an attack on the power grid.

According to a Government Accountability Office report out last year, around 24,000 substations and 430,000 miles of transmission cables are vulnerable to catastrophic failure wrought by the actions of bad actors.

Based on interviews with power grid excerpts, GAO reported that one of the biggest threats to the nation’s power grids would be electromagnetic disturbances created by detonating small nuclear devices high above key electrical infrastructure assets. North Korea, Iran, Russia and China all have the capabilities to carry out such attacks.

Another concern involves the possibility of targeted cyber-attacks on the 700 large power transformers throughout the nation. According to the GAO, a hacker acting alone or on behalf of a terrorist organization could cause transformer failure and mass power outages with little more than a laptop.

What’s more alarming than the information that bad actors or solar events could disrupt the nation’s power grid, crippling the economy and key government operations, is how poorly prepared the federal government is to deal with such an attack.

In its report last year, the GAO found that disaster response officials aren’t really even sure who should be planning for such a disaster.

“Industry representatives and other federal officials told us it is not clear who within Department of Homeland Security is responsible for addressing electromagnetic risks,” the GAO noted in its report.

Luckily, there are some firms in the U.S. working to shore up the energy sector. In fact, it’s become a billion dollar industry.

Because the mainstream media goes to such great lengths to ignore actual threats to the American way of life as network news focuses on gun control and transgender bathrooms, many Americans have little knowledge of this quickly growing energy protection sector.

But that’s good news for contrarian investors, who are finding excellent ground floor opportunities to fund operations that could protect the nation from a devastating disaster while turning a handsome profit. That’s the way the market works.

If you’re interested in learning more about these exciting projects, check out this in-depth report from our sister publication The Bob Livingston Letter™.

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