Forty years ago this week, lightning struck an electrical power station, blacking out the city of New York and surrounding suburbs. Believe it or not, such a scenario is even more likely now, thanks to North Korea.
That’s because America’s electrical grid has become increasingly reliant on digital control systems since 1977, making it more vulnerable to an outage. And now, the possibility of a terrorist attack, most likely to be launched by North Korea, means the entire country could be plunged into darkness.
Even worse, due to the high degree of digital reliance, restarting a power plant that has gone offline is more difficult than in times past.
“The grid has become highly automated and, if remote digital communication goes down, you need someone at the substation to flip the switch to turn it back on after an outage,” says Tom Popik, chairman of the Foundation for Resilient Societies, which has been warning for years about the threat to America’s electric supply system.