The power grid has been pushed to the edge of collapse in Texas. Record-setting temperatures have both residents and energy experts concerned about the fragility of the vital infrastructure. Although the kiddos are heading back to school, the summer heat is still far from over. Heat-weary Texans have cranked their AC between peak hours, causing the power demand to surge to record-setting heights.
Would the health and safety of your family be in danger if the power grid failed, even for only a few days or a weak? Extreme temperatures, be they hot or cold, would be the most immediate concern – but many other life-threatening problems would also present themselves in a rather rapid fashion.
If the power grid fails, the tractor-trailers would no longer be able to deliver food to the grocery store. The food you are growing in your backyard and have stored inside you home, would be all that stands between your loved ones and starvation. Shelf staple, or long-term storage food, would definitely be a good investment and should be at the top of you prepping budget list. A lack of medical care and the inability to call 911 to get help with safety and fire emergencies could also be a major obstacle to hurdle during a grid down disaster.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)said the demand on the power grid in the Lone Star State beat all previous usage records.
“With temperatures expected to continue to rise, we likely will see even higher demand,” ERCOT Chief Operating Officer Brad Jones stated in a release warning customers that the grid was being overly-taxed. Temperatures in have reached 101 in recent weeks, with a heat index of 107, the National Weather Service reports. ERCOT engineers have reportedly been kept quite busy working to “maintain overall reliability” in an effort to “protect the grid.”
The United States power grid has grown tenfold is size over the past five decades. I frequently write about power grid threats (and even wrote a book on surviving such a disaster) and typically focus upon the “doomsday biggies” in my reports. Solar flares, cyber hacking by a rogue nation, or an EMP attack each have the ability to crash the grid in mere moments and change life as we know it for an extremely long time. But, weather threats to the nation’s electrical system should not be discounted as just mundane seasonal occurrences which couldn’t possibly provoke a significant disaster.
“Some additional plants have experienced unplanned outages, and we are expecting less wind generation,” ERCOT Director of System’s Operation Dan Woodfin said when the Texas power grid first began to struggle with extreme temperatures in late July.
Woodfin’s acknowledgement over the role the loss of wind generated energy played in the burden placed on the power grid appears to go hand-in-hand with a comment made by Genscape Incorporated power analyst Rhodri Williams.
“We’re looking at potentially the strongest demand day over the year. The loss of coal-fired generation has contributed to further upside risk in the real-time today,” Williams said.
When the federal government further restricts the use of coal, with wind and solar power fluctuating heavily depending upon the weather, power grid spikes could happen for great frequency. According to an ABC News report about the strain on the power grid in Texas, the problem is due to not only high temperatures, an growing population and no new power plants being built to help cover the demand.
“As you have more and more folks pouring into the Lone Star State, guess what, you got to have to have power generation to meet that growth,” energy analyst Alan Lammey said. “Once you get very hot weather and a large population and not enough generation to meet the demand. Hey, were in Texas it’s 104 degrees outside. If we don’t protect the grid in an emergency we could have a four day outage across the state of Texas, we want to avoid that.”
Lammey also stated that should a “power plant or two” go of line, ERCOT could order rolling blackouts to prevent demand from crashing the system. The power grid system in Texas is often regarded as the largest and “most healthy” in the United States. If the grid in that region is teetering, the outlook for the system in the rest of the nation being able to withstand extreme weather patterns for an extended period of time is not very encouraging.
Weather related power outages were the primary cause of all gird events from 2007 to 2012, an American Society Civil Engineers report in 2013 indicates. Just as the summer heat in Texas has sparked power grid failure worries and over-burdened the system, so did the frigid temperatures experienced nearly across the country did during the winter of 2013-14. That same winter was responsible for two major power plants going “offline.” The loss of the plants reportedly caused caused an approximate loss of 3,700 megawatts of power. At the time, ERCOT officials told customers to curtail their use of power to help prevent a crash. Woodfin informed the media that if just one more major power plant went dark, the power grid could have been “pushed over the edge.”
The current heat-induced power grid concerns and the the winter outage fears should not be looked upon as simply a weather anomaly. MIT scientists and expert storm trackers have warned that an “monster storm” is long overdue. FEMA is preparing for the worst and urging others to do the same.
“[Inexperienced people] generally underestimate how bad it will be and made decisions about staying when they should be evacuating. You have to accept the fact that every time a major storm threatens it’s a new experience for 99 percent of the people involved. People don’t always understand the threat,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, said.
Prepping for a power grid disaster should involve far more than simply purchasing a plethora of candles and making sure the wood pile stack remains tall throughout the winter months. The domino effect of a grid down scenario could prove far more deadly than the inciting SHTF incident.
Even if you have stockpiled enough food, medication, ammo, and water to care for your family, many of the folks in your community likely have not place enough emphasis of maintaining a self-reliant lifestyle. The proverbial “marauding hordes” could be on your doorstep sooner than imagined if a power grid down disaster last longer than just a few days or a week. Hunger and panic are powerful motivators which prompt a normally good person, to do bad things in order to survive.
Are you prepared to survive after the lights go out?