6 Ways The Power Grid Could Collapse

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
By Paul Martin

MARCH 17, 2015

Of all our infrastructure, the electrical power grid is the most fragile. In the 2013 Infrastructure Report Card, prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Energy received a grade of D. The only reason it was that high, was that the energy category includes all classes of energy, not just electrical energy.

However, in the narrative, the ASCE described the true condition of the electrical grid, declaring that it needed over one trillion dollars of investment to survive the next ten years.

The problem is that our electrical grid, like much of our infrastructure, was designed for a 50 year lifespan. If you look at the average age of our power plants and distribution network, it’s clear that way too much of it is over well over the halfway point in its lifespan. In fact, there is a considerable amount of it that is still in use, even though it is past its programmed life.

It doesn’t take much to leave us without electrical power. A good snowstorm or thunderstorm will knock down power lines, leaving people without electrical power. Larger storms, like hurricanes can do enough damage to the electrical grid to leave people without electrical power for weeks.

However, that’s a little misleading. The only reason that the damage to the grid is fixed so rapidly in cases like a hurricane is that that power companies send in teams from outside the area to help with repairs. If there was a nationwide event that caused the loss of electrical power, it would take much longer to repair the damage; both due to a lack of crews and a lack of necessary equipment.

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