The grid can be seriously disrupted for prolonged periods by a number of man-caused events, like physical assaults, power surges, cyber warfare against the grid, or high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (EMP) caused by the detonation of a nuclear weapon outside the atmosphere above the United States.Such events could disable or destroy outright key parts of the power grid, prompting the cascading collapse of every one of the other critical infrastructures that assure the availability of water, food, medicine, finance, transportation, telecommunications, etc., possibly for years.
The effects would be catastrophic. For example, the chairman of a blue-ribbon congressional task force has estimated that, if the power is off over wide areas of the country for more than a year, nine out of ten Americans would be dead.The good news is that we know how to fix the grid’s vulnerabilities. The Pentagon has been protecting its critical assets against EMP for over five decades. Known and relatively affordable technologies can protect our power grid and the 21st Century American economy, society and population that absolutely depend upon it.