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Long-Term Power Blackout Coming Soon

Vector image of a the word BLACKOUT in caps and bold on a black background in front of a large high-rise city total blackout power failure. in the foreground is a white electric 2 pronged plug and cord with adjacent white extension cord 2 prong female socket with plug. A white electric plug disconnect unplugged with sparks, error connection.

There is an ever-increasing load being put on the United States Power Grid. From extreme weather events to millions of new electric vehicles and charging stations, adding to the electricity draw each year. With approximately 59 billions electronic devices powered by electricity and relied on in the U.S., it’s understandable that many people would worry about long-term power blackouts.

We know a long-term power blackout is coming soon somewhere. The U.S. would last up to a year during a total power grid collapse before most of the population died. Most food, water, sewer, sanitation, hospitals, medicines, and other products that require electricity are lost within 30 days.

Throughout this article, we talk about the issues that cause long-term power blackouts (black sky events.) We give links to articles that will show you how to persevere through, how likely it will be to happen, and what we can do to help at the end of the article.

How Vulnerable Is the U.S. Power Grid to Blackouts?

Color vector image of a map of the continental United States power grid broken into three parts.
U.S. power grid broken into three parts. The Western, Eastern, and Texas Interconnects.

Because of age, susceptibility, and antiquated parts, the U.S. power grid is extremely vulnerable in its current state and has a far-reaching effect on the entire North American power grid for Canada and Mexico as well. Long-term power blackouts are common today and on the rise with extreme hot and cold weather.

The U.S. power grid is most vulnerable because it only has two lower 48 main sections, and three smaller main sections in Texas, Alaska, and Hawaii. If one of the lower 48 main sections is eliminated, half of the country will be powerless, and it could take several months or years to restore power to major cities and longer for rural areas.

We discuss power black outs and outages in some of our other important energy articles on the power grid like “What Happens if the American Power Grid Goes Down?” and “How Vulnerable Is the U.S. Power Grid?”

Why Is the U.S. Power Grid So Vulnerable to Blackouts?

Color photo of an enormous gray large power transformer.
Enormous gray large power transformer.

Consider these variables:

  • The U.S. power grid hasn’t been updated in a very long time. 70% of U.S. electrical transmission lines are over 25 years old according to the U.S. Department of Energy Grid Modernization Multi-Year Plan. The average age of large power transformers is over 40 years old.
  • Large power transformer replacements are extremely difficult. Not only are large power transformers huge and cumbersome, between 200,000 and 800,000 pounds, they are difficult to build. 90 percent of the electricity passes through these transformers in the U.S., and they can take 38-months to manufacture. That does not include widening bridges and roads to transport.
  • Transformers of all sizes aren’t upgraded until they break. Transformer explosions are loud and can shut off power throughout a large area. They can also catch on fire, spreading to other parts of the power grid.
  • Much of the U.S. power grid is above-ground and susceptible to wind and storm damage. While much of the grid is moving underground, most can break from car accidents, heavy windstorms, lightning strikes, terrorist attacks, and other issues. The underground portions are much less susceptible to these issues, though.
  • Rocky Mountain Institute claims the U.S. power grid is split into 3 parts. If one part goes out, most of the country will be powerless. The Eastern and Western grids make up almost the entire continental U.S., and if all three or five parts, Including Alaska and Hawaii, collapse simultaneously, repairing them will take a very long time because there’s no electricity for power, fuel, transportation, tools, or labor force transport.
  • Required Electric Vehicle adoption in some states will spark a tremendous surge in power demand. Many states are already struggling with supplying power to their residents in peak demand times like the heat of the summer or winter and increasing dependence on renewable power creates reliability problems on days with less sun or wind. More EV’s without massive upgrades to the U.S. power grids will just exasperate the problem.
  • The average U.S. Household has 22 electronic devices using some kind of electricity. The salesman is going to always tell you everything is fine, just like all the U.S. utility companies do. They do this because they don’t want to bring their utilities to the full compliance with the recommendations of the experts against a level 5 geomagnetic storm or EMP because of the cost. Sadly, this will only cost us in the event of one of those scenarios which is mostly fixable.

Not Depending On the Power Grid Can Be Beneficial

Color fall day time photo of a house among trees with solar panels on top.
A house among trees with solar panels on top.

If you aren’t connected to the electrical grid or have emergency power sources, you’ll have a much easier time dealing with long-term power blackout, outages, or even a total grid collapse. Depending on what compromised the power grid, it might be impossible to communicate with people via smartphones, emails, and other long-distance forms of communication.

Not having access to these communication methods can be disastrous if something life-threatening happens to you or a loved one. Without power and being able to call for emergency services, what might have turned out to be okay can turn deadly instantly.

Note: Many companies that install solar panels tie them to the power grid to return energy to the grid. This could mean you might still have issues if the grid collapses depending on your connection type. However, solar panels can also be tied to off-grid batteries and power banks. These are the best with solar panels because they don’t have problems if the grid goes out. However, battery banks can be harmed by solar storms and EMPs.

What Happens If The U.S. Power Grid Fails?

The answer to “What Happens If The U.S. Power Grid Fails?” depends on many factors like if it is a rolling black out or a complete nationwide failure and the amount of time it is down. If the power grid is down for more than a few weeks or months, the effect of change transitions quickly and drastically.

If the U.S. has a G5 Geomagnetic storm and national power grid shutdown, it could be months or years before it could be repaired if ever. In that case, it is estimated that 90 percent of all humans would die after one year without electrical power through societal collapse, starvation, and disease. 

Even after a few weeks of the entire U.S. Power Grid being down, people would start to die from no water, food, or proper heating and cooling depending on their area they live in. The panic with news that the grid cannot be repaired would, of course, be catastrophic to all people. People of low socioeconomic status would be hit first and the hardest.

What Can Cause a Long-Term Power Blackout In the U.S.?

Color photo of three cyber terrorists, woman and two men working on computers trying to hack into the U.S. power grid.
Three cyber terrorists working on computers trying to hack into the U.S. power grid.
  • Cyber Attack
  • Domestic Physical Terrorist Attack
  • Foreign Terrorist Attack
  • Extreme Weather
  • Natural Disaster
  • Level 5 Geomagnetic Storm
  • Warfare
  • EMP / Nuclear Warhead 
  • Age
  • Climate Change

Many things can cause a total grid collapse in the U.S., including EMPs (Electromagnetic pulses), solar storms, and natural disasters. Less likely causes include warfare and anything else that can explode transformers throughout the American power grid.

Threats to the U.S. Power Grid

Multicolor vector image cutaway of a nuclear warhead and its component descriptions.
Cutaway image of a nuclear warhead and its component descriptions.
  • Cyber Attacks are some of the most likely scenarios for a total U.S. Power Grid collapse. There are many foreign powers who would like to disrupt the American economy for many reasons. Countries like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, for example, would like to unseat the United States as the leading superpower and collapsing the power grid would work.
  • Home Grown Domestic Physical Terrorist Attacks. Domestic Terrorist attacks have been on the rise in recent years. In 2022 there were 163 direct physical attacks on U.S. power grids according to a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). A coordinated well planned effort could dramatically affect the U.S. Power Grid.
  • Foreign Terrorist attacks are just as, if not more, dangerous than domestic terrorist attacks. We all know that if someone wants to do something bad enough like we experienced with 911, they are going to do it. Any well coordinated subversive plot to destroy key parts of the U.S. Power grid could be achieved. There are 30 key substations in the nation’s grid operations. If terrorists can ever knock out nine, the U.S. power grid could suffer coast-to-coast blackouts lasting 18 months or more.
  • EMPs are some of the first grid-collapsing devices that come to mind. Electromagnetic pulses can short-circuit almost everything that uses electricity, and once this happens, the power grid must be restored. Depending on the size of the EMP, it could take days, weeks, or even months to repair the grid.
  • Geomagnetic Solar storms affecting the power grid are common, but a grid-ruining solar storm is rare. A G5 or greater solar storm is inevitable and happens approximately every 100 years. A G5 Geomagnetic storm would cause‌ direct damage with electrical short circuit fires, large power transformer melt downs, complete overhead power lines disappearing, and many other issues that would short-circuit the power grid. Solar storms can interfere with satellite signals as well.
  • Natural disasters can damage several portions of the U.S. power grid. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, floods, and other natural occurrences can damage the power grid. It could range from one transformer in a small area to large power transformers affecting massive areas and cities.
  • Warfare, including nuclear detonation, can destroy any nation’s power grid with enough force. These massive explosions can instantly break the power grid, especially if they damage major transformer groups. Without transformers, nothing can reduce or increase electricity to usable levels.
  • Age. The average age of the U.S. power grid is forty years old, with more than a quarter of the grid fifty years old or older. As we discussed above the United States aging electrical transmission infrastructure is a danger to it’s citizens and in the right circumstance can cause widespread catastrophic outages and death.

Unfortunately, there’s not much of a plan to prevent a total Long-Term Power Blackout In the U.S. because power grids are not controlled by the government they are controlled by private utility corporations. 

Geomagnetic Storm Risk to Total Power Grid Blackout Collapse

Color vector image of a geomagnetic storms solar flare and a bright yellow sun shooting solar wind at the earth and around its magnetic fields.
Image of a geomagnetic storms solar flare and a bright yellow sun shooting solar wind at the earth and around its magnetic fields.

Not only is the U.S. power grid vulnerable, but we’ve only had to consider it for the past century. Since nothing destroyed the entire grid at once after the Carrington Event Geomagnetic Storm in 1859, it’s impossible to predict everything that would happen. These storms can cycle every 100 to 1,000 years and vary greatly in magnitude.

From the Carrington event back to an extremely powerful geomagnetic solar storm signature of cosmic-ray increase in AD 774–775 from tree rings in Japan which was 10 times stronger. We will never know how often these events have happened in the past or their strength and capabilities.

If you don’t think space weather and geomagnetic storms are dangerous, then read this “National Weather Service Before an Extreme Weather Event” guide with links.

“Researchers from Lloyd’s of London and the Atmospheric and Environmental Research Agency in the U.S. have estimated that a Carrington-class event today would result in between $0.6 and $2.6 trillion in damages to the U.S. alone, according to NASA spaceflight.”

Lloyds of London Solar storm risk to the North American electric grid report examines the impact of solar storms on North America’s electric grid.

The following section provides some grid collapse information and survival tips.

How and Why Does the U.S. Population Die After a Total Power Grid Blackout?

As discussed earlier, it is estimated that 90% of the United States population would die after one year if their American Electrical Power Grid collapsed. Our power grid is intricately tied to Canada and Mexico, so it would likely be a North American total power grid collapse with cascading power failures.

Cause of Death From Long-Term Electrical Blackouts (Months or Years)

  • No Electricity
  • No Water
  • No Food / Starvation
  • Anarchy / Looting
  • No Heat in Winter
  • No Air Conditioning in Summer

How To Survive a Total Long-term Power Blackout in the U.S.

Color photo of a white man with black hair, beard and dark rim glasses in his dark kitchen in a power outage with candles and looking at bottled water.
A man in his dark kitchen in a power outage with candles and looking at bottled water.

To survive a U.S. total grid collapse, prioritize water storage, collection, and purification, food storage and production, and warmth. Investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar power or geothermal energy, can be a good idea, but you could use gas-powered generators in the short term.

We specifically address and describe in our articles “Will I Lose Water if I Lose Power?”, “What to do before a G5 or Greater Geomagnetic Storm?, and “How Much Emergency Power Do You Need For An Apartment?” with lists and links to survival information and supplies.

Follow this in-depth guide to survive a total grid collapse:

  • Have Mobile Solar Generators–Portable Power Station’s Emergency Power ready and Available. With a mobile solar generator or portable power station, you can operate critical appliances like freezers, refrigerators, and heaters indefinitely with adequate solar power. These types of Solar generators and power stations require 4 hours per day of direct sunlight to recharge through solar panels.
  • Have Emergency Water Supply on Hand. Water is more important than food for survival. You can only live three days without water and you can go much longer without food before dying. It would be horrible, but it is possible.
  • Find out how you’ll purify your water supply. There are many ways to purify water, such as portable charcoal purifiers, Brita filters, and other methods. Most city water is purified in various processes that use electricity. Without it, you won’t get water from a garden hose or tap.
  • Determine when, where, and how you’ll get and store food. Most people use refrigerators to store their perishable food. Electricity is used to mass-produce food, too. Both processes will be eliminated during a total grid collapse. Growing your own veggies and fruits can help, as can chickens for eggs or other livestock animals.
  • Consider various heat sources, such as contained fires. Cold winters will become unbearable for people without heat. Most people in the United States rely on heaters and air conditioners to adjust their home temperatures. Fire will probably be the go-to solution for cold weather, cooking, and more.
  • Solar panels, geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, and many other sources can be used if not connected to the grid. Consider portable solar panels that connect to 12V batteries. There are also solar panels that you can mount to your house’s roof for long-term, high-energy storage.
  • Take advantage of artificial lighting. You can use a lot of emergency home lighting that still works after a power outage, including battery-powered lights, which can help tremendously. Consider outdoor lighting, headlamps, flashlights, and similar artificial light sources. Consider how you’ll charge the batteries, too. LEDs don’t use a lot of energy.
  • Keep some cash and valuables out of the bank. In a major power blackout you are not running to the bank or money machine because they wont work without power. Always keep some cash and or precious valuables where you have access to them in case of an emergency.

How Can We Help With Protecting and Upgrading The U.S. Power Grid?

Vector image of the Grid Down Power Up official movie & website logo.
Grid Down Power Up Official Movie & Website Link.

List of Potential Solutions to Fix the U.S. Power Grid provided by the Grid Down Power Up Movie and Website

  • Protect Critical Substations
  • Establish Microgrids
  • Implement Existing EMP/GMD Protection Systems
  • Upgrade Federal and State Cybersecurity Standards
  • Upgrade and Deploy All-Hazards Protected Communication Systems At Fed And State Level
  • Leverage Military Standards
  • EMP Task Force Recommendations
  • EMP Commission Recommendations
  • A New Presidential Executive Order Must Be Issued
  • Federal Legislation Must Be Passed
  • Prioritize Nuclear Plants and Spent Nuclear Fuel

What is the U.S. Government Doing to Upgrade Our Power Grid?

Color vector image showing power grid and transmission lines infrastructure on a white background.
Power grid and transmission lines infrastructure.

There is positive and negative things happening in the United Sates in regards to upgrading the power grid. According to a 2022 CNBC report titled “Why the U.S. is struggling to modernize the electric grid” it states:

“Electricity systems are an area of shared federal and state jurisdictions,” according to Romany Webb, senior fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “The fact that we have this split authority between the federal government and the states is one of the factors that contributes to the complexity of the sort of modernizing the grid and building out additional infrastructure.”

“The state entities that regulate electric utilities are called state public utility commissions,” said Webb. “In some states, those commissioners are elected. So if we’re talking about making investments that are going to be really expensive and are going to be increasing electricity bills, they might see a lot of pushback from customers about that and that might affect [the commissioners’] chances of reelection.”

2022 CNBC report titled “Why the U.S. is struggling to modernize the electric grid”

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE’s) Building a Better Grid Initiative

Just a coupe of good examples starts with the the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building a Better Grid Initiative that started on January 12, 2022. This is a $20 billion investment

The United States will need to expand its electricity transmission capabilities by at least 60% by 2030, to deal with an increased need for clean energy and new requirements for electric vehicles among other things.

The new Building a Better Grid Initiative will help with significant transmission projects, distribution investments, and power grid upgrades that are sorely needed. Some experts believe the power grids capacity may need to be tripled by 2050 to keep up with the required growth to become fully net zero.

New Huge Wind Energy Electrical Transmission System

Federal and local governments finally approved the permitting of the Western U.S. Electrical power transmission line so it could break ground after an 18-year wait. The 732-mile, $3 billion dollar TransWest Express Transmission Project is scheduled to begin construction in 2023.

The TransWest Express Transmission Project will deliver renewable wind energy produced in Wyoming to the United States biggest onshore wind project across four states including Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Billions of dollars is a start but we will need trillions of dollars of annual investments in energy sector infrastructure and technologies to keep up what is required to transition to a national electric car economy and net zero emissions by 2050. This initiative would be in conjunction with hardening off our power grid there by not killing 90 percent of the human race from a G5 Geomagnetic storm by accident.

What Else We Can Do?

As we discuss multiple times in this article to make the point that an estimated 90% of the U.S. population will fall off within the first year of a total Long-Term electrical grid blackout by not acting now or doing anything to help the situation.

These numbers assume the grid isn’t separated, repaired, or enhanced in the near future. Having personal solar or wind emergency power can make a big difference in improving your survival chances.

We can do things to shore up our power grid today by passing along articles like these to your family and friends or sending links of movies and websites like Participate Grid Down Power Up Movie & Website.

We can take action and contact our state representatives and work towards hardening off the U.S. Power Grid. All is not lost and we could actually avoid such a terrible disaster if we act. That is the most important part.

We also need more contests like the 2022 “NASA Space Apps Challenge-Save The Earth From Another Carrington Event!”

If you are looking for further information on the effects of our U.S. Power systems please see some of our other power related articles like “U.S. Vulnerability With an All-Electric Vehicle Economy” and “Should You Be Worried About Weather-Caused Power Grid Outages?”

Key Takeaways

Vector image of black silhouettes of children playing, dancing, and jumping and shows their shadows on the glossy white floor on a white background.

While a total long-term power blackouts are not unavoidable, they can certainly be dramatically curtailed with the right preparation of the U.S. electrical grid infrastructure by updating immediately. We have had direction from the U.S. Department of Energy Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan since 2015 with basically no action.

It’s definitely something you should protect yourself from. Adjusting your lifestyle and preparing is as important now as anything you could possibly do after Long-term Power Blackout or a total grid collapse.

Having items that use solar panels and wind power and batteries rather than grid connections can help tremendously. Additionally, you can install solar panels on your home or office and other forms of renewable energy without being connected to the grid.

Fremontii, LLC. is compensated for referring traffic and business and as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. By using the affiliate links, you are helping support our Website, and we genuinely appreciate your support.

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POST CATEGORIES

We are a website that writes helpful articles about the latest technology for emergency preparedness and power grid energy. We try new devices and analyze their quality, durability, effects, for emergency preparedness.

This site is owned and operated by Fremontii, LLC. Fremontii, LLC. is a participant in Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.