Attack on 9 substations could plunge America into months of darkness?

I remember at talk years ago that said if an enemy fired 9 nukes at critical power substation and food transportation networks, America could collapse into barbarism for a generation. But now the specific risk of an EMP attack (or solar flare) wiping out just 9 substations is gaining traction. The reason for concern? It could crash America’s whole electricity grid for months, if not years!

A 2009 FERC report (Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission) said that:

“physical damage of certain system components (e.g. extra-high-voltage transformers) on a large scale…could result in prolonged outages, as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years.”

Now that this has become public knowledge, how long before terrorist groups figure it out? Remember when Tom Clancy wrote a Jack Ryan novel where a lone pilot hijacks a 747 and flies it into the White House, and then just years later 9/11 happened? If forces us to ask: how secure are America’s substations? Forget the nukes and EMP attacks for a moment: lets consider dumber, cruder methods. What about 9 terrorist trucks loaded with IEMI devices? (Intentional ElectroMagnetic Interference).

Well, it turns out FERC have run some studies into that as well. I didn’t realise IEMI devices could be so small. “Suitcase bombs” in effect, that can be placed inside buildings and power facilities hardened to the vastly more expensive (and difficult, and possibly only state-level-action) of direct nuclear EMP attack.

As another FERC report (by Metatech 2010) says:

It should be noted that IEMI has some advantages over the E1 HEMP in that the EM weapons may be carried inside of facilities (briefcase weapons) and therefore any external shielding of a building will be ineffective. In addition, there are conducted IEMI threats that will allow the direct injection of high-level voltages into power or communications circuits, which cannot happen with E1 HEMP. E1 HEMP must couple to external lines to generate high levels of conducted voltages.

Now let’s get really down and dirty. What about a big suicide bomb, one of those completely tricked-out suicide trucks that can level a city block as we’ve seen in Afghanistan?

Are they really saying America’s electricity grid, and therefore the pumped water supply, could be taken down by a dozen large suicide trucks?

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