She’s Right

But for the wrong reasons.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says billions of dollars in upgrades are needed to the power grid in the US to prepare for widespread electric vehicle adoption.

If that’s the spur needed to get the upgrades started and seriously underway, then cool. However, our power grid badly needs upgrade and strengthening in its own right. It’s old, near capacity under normal draw, and highly fragile—as the California portion of the grid demonstrates continually, and as the Texas grid demonstrated a couple of winters ago.

Indeed, nothing has been done since the Northeast blackout of 2003—which itself was a geographic repeat of the blackout of 1965. The proximate causes of these actually were quite trivial, but the fragility of the grid was demonstrated by how fast and far the effects spread: throughout the American northeast (and deep into Canada, which illustrates, also, international implications for strengthening, or continuing to ignore, the decrepit state of our grid).

It’s a national security matter, too, beyond the economic aspects of security.

We also need to drop some dimes (though not as many as might seem) on hardening all of our power grids (plural: not only electricity, but grids distributing natural gas and oil from the well through refiners to end users) against EMP attacks—which needn’t be nuclear weapon-originated, or even large, but merely carefully targeted—and against being software-hacked, as the Russians did when they shut down Colonial Pipeline.

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