This Is What Government Should Do – So It Won’t Do It

Lights out: House plan would protect nation’s electricity from solar flare, nuclear bomb |

Amid growing fears of a massive electromagnetic pulse hit from either a solar flare or a terrorist nuclear bomb, House Republicans on Tuesday will unveil a plan to save the nation’s electric grid from an attack that could mean lights out for 300 million Americans.

Dubbed the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, the legislation would push the federal government to install grid-saving devices such as surge protectors to protect against an attack.

It either will be blocked, or watered down to nothing by Democrats, who need every penny they can get to provide boodle like Obamaphones to the welfare state constituents who make up 47% of the population – and 75% of their voters – or more.

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


This Is What Government Should Do – So It Won’t Do It — 6 Comments

  1. Part of the problem, not mentioned in the linked article, is that protecting the electrical infrastructure would be very cheap, at least by US government standards. Lay in orders for a couple dozen of the really big transformers at a couple million a pop. Buy and install (but leave out of circuit) a passel of smaller transformers and other gear. Put surge cut-outs on the long-haul lines. Bury lines where possible.

    Depending on what form and level of protection is discussed (and the list above is off the top of my head, but I’m informed if somewhat rusty on the topic) the total cost is a hundred million to a few billion per year, spread over the continental US. There simply isn’t enough money involved to make it worth steering a supply contract to a senior representative’s district. Almost as damagingly, the cost to do the work isn’t high enough to hide the billions of dollars of bureaucratic overhead that would be required. (Or “required”, if you prefer.) Even worse, the numbers are so small that no serious member of the ruling class will take the problem seriously. If it were important, we’d be talking about close to a trillion dollars, like with the bank bailout.

    If we want to get this done, we need to bump the cost by at least an order of magnitude. Two orders would be better.

  2. One of the problems during the 1989 shutdown in Canada and the Northeastern US was that the protective devices were mis-set to protect themselves rather than the grid.

    The problem with spare large transformers is that there are no standard designs — most are custom designed and manufactured (outside the US). Replacement manufacturing, shipment, and installation can take years.

    • As witness what happened at Fukushima, I agree.

      As people wiser than I have noted, emergency planners far too often leave the actual emergencies out of their planning.

      At Fukushima, for instance, they didn’t plan for an actual shutdown of electricity.  After all, they had backup generators – which didn’t function all that well when immersed in seawater.

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