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Power Grid Could Take 10 Years to Repair After Major Solar Storm

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According to recently declassified FEMA documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, our power grid is not set up to be able to handle a solar storm known as a “Carrington Event,” and if hit with one, repairs to bring the grid back online and fully operational could take anywhere from 4-10 years.

The problem is not new to emergency management officials; we have covered the possibility of a Carrington Event wiping out our power grid for over a decade.

Our nation’s power grid is a hodgepodge of antiquated equipment and technology, with a large portion of our grid still relying on the 1960s and 70s technology. With administration after administration failing to do anything to secure our country’s power systems, our electrical infrastructure has become a patchwork of interconnected power generation plants, transmission facilities, distribution facilities, and over 400,000 miles of electric transmission lines — some of which dates back to the 1880s.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that 70% of U.S. transmission lines are more than 30 years old and the average age of large power transformers, which handle 90% of U.S. electricity flow, is more than 45 years. As a result, outages between 2015 and 2020 averaged 9,656 annually, more than double the average of 4,609 during the previous six-year period.

From our article on Protecting yourself from Attacks on our Power Grid: Urban Centers will become Deathtraps

What is a Carrington Event?

In 1859, just as the world started to depend on electricity, we were hit by a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) solar flare. The event came to be known as the Carrington Event and gave us a look at what could happen if we were hit by one of these massive solar flares today.

The CME that hit back in 1859 was so powerful that it could be seen with the naked eye.  It caused widespread damage to telegraph systems throughout the world.  While the government publicly says they are ready, the fact is their own documents say otherwise!

If a Carrington size event were to hit the Earth today, the consequences would be devastating.

As we have reported for a while, NASA scientists say that a direct hit from one of these CME events would have a catastrophic impact on our critical infrastructures, costing upwards of 2 trillion dollars in damage during the first year alone. According to their best estimates, it would take at least four years to recover, with urban areas being hit especially hard.

According to the recently declassified FEMA documents, everything we have been warning has been confirmed. In fact, the 36-page report prepared by FEMA back in 2010, titled “Mitigation strategies for FEMA command, control, and communications during and after a solar superstorm,” stated that even smaller-scale hits “could cause large-scale power grid collapse” if it hit today.

The report warns that Internet, cable TV, telephone, and cell services would all be shut down.  

“Approximately 60% of the cellular towers in the U.S. have battery backup only for 2-24 hours,” the report states. “As these towers lose power, large portions of the cellular network will begin to fail. Urban and populated suburban areas are more likely to have cell towers with generator backup with fuel reserves ranging from 1-7 days, depending on location and equipment owner.”

For the Power Grid, Full recovery could take 4-10 years!

Power grids around the world rely on extra-high voltage (EHV) custom-built transformers for power transmission. In an extreme geomagnetic storm, the 2010 NERC report estimates that 350 EHV transformers in the United States “will exceed levels where the transformer is at risk of irreparable damage,” collapsing large portions of the power grid.

“These multi-ton apparatus generally cannot be repaired in the field, and if damaged in this manner, they need to be replaced with new units, which have manufacture lead times of 12 months or more”. Full recovery could take 4-10 years.

What can you do to protect yourself from Long-term Power Grid Shutdowns?

Survivalist after power outages

The first step is to realize the severity of the problem and realize that the government will not be able to help during any long-term disaster.

The fact is, we are living in a much different world than when this report was put out — and not for the better. Our sources say that based on current supply chain issues 4-10 years is a pipe dream. In fact, since much of our technology relies on parts shipped in from China, we lack the ability to even get the grid going again if China decides to say “sorry, we aren’t building your new transformers!”

The truth is emergency management personnel have no contingency plans to deal with this type of event and will be overwhelmed in a matter of hours. If China decides they want to use the crisis to their advantage, GAME OVER!

The second step is all about preparedness. You must be prepared to survive an extended period without power and essential services. That means you need to stockpile food and water, learn the skills you need to protect yourself and your family from the chaos resulting from the power shutdowns, and possibly be ready to get as far away from highly populated urban centers as you can.

If you have the means, you should look into purchasing some rural bug-out property, where you can head should we face a catastrophic collapse scenario. I think urban survival during this type of disaster will be almost impossible.

Shielding your Electronics from EMPs, CMEs, and Solar Flares.

You can do several things to protect your electronics from EMPs and Solar Flares. There are options for protecting your electronics from installing surge protectors and shielding equipment on our everyday devices to storing backup electronics like ham radios and essential gear in EMP shielding bags or faraday cages.

Preparedness Resources



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