In Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, Ted Koppel explores what would happen to the United States if an enemy attacked the electrical grid — what would life look like if we lost electricity for weeks or months? Security experts agree that the grid is vulnerable and several, including Richard A. Clarke who served in senior national security positions under presidents from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, are sure the Russians and Chinese penetrated it years ago. The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2009 that the Chinese had placed logic bombs in the electrical grid.
FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has estimated that knocking out nine key substations could black out most of the U.S. Former Rep. Ed Markey estimated that recovering from an attack could take two months to two years or more. The disruption would be massive, and much beyond the damage from storms, because this would be targeted, yet FEMA and Homeland Security don’t have plans. The military focuses on protecting its own systems — no one is in charge of protecting the electric grid which is a public resource by owned in most places by private companies.