As the Trump Administration ushers in uncertain change, one of those changes must become certain if the Administration is serious about national security: a resilient U.S. electrical grid. Our continued failure to allocate the manageable expense of shoring up our grid against phasic-probability, high-impact destructive events is an unabating gamble with the survival of 350 million people and the progress of our predecessors. Some have defended the slow pace of proofing the U.S. electric grid, citing the low-probability of high-impact risks posed by Electromagnetic Pulse and/or solar Coronal Mass Ejection events. However, our nation’s resilience, defense, and security should not be left to luck. No one would step into an escape room with a 10% chance of death during the game, yet Lloyd’s of London assessed that there is a 12% chance per decade that North America will be impacted by a significant CME event. Furthermore, the insurance syndicate notes CME impact is “almost inevitable.”
In 2012, a solar super storm, the most powerful in 150 years passed within hours of Earth. According to NASA, “If it had hit, we [the U.S.] would still be picking up the pieces.” The close call underscored the very real risk EMP poses to the U.S. power grid. Had the pulse impacted North America, it is possible that the effects would have interrupted critical cooling functions at nuclear generation facilities. The risk of meltdown from EMP disruption of cooling is real and could impact multiple stations simultaneously.