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National Infrastructure 2012, where do we stand?

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There is so much talk about this nations Power, Highways and Electrical transmission systems. Can we depend on them in the future. 

My 30+ years in commercial electrical work and design led me to look for more information on our current power system, I found the 2011 report on the Western States Interstate Power. Now this is an old system and I thought we had more issues than it seems we do. Attached here, is a link: 2011_WECC_SOTI_Report . The WECC serves Northern most Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, most of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and most of New Mexico. 11 states inside the US and 3 outside the United States. It is the largest electrical grid by miles and population. If you think back, there have only been a handful of real system issues in past years, there are the 2 most recent documented in the report. This report really looks at everything including terrorism, human mistakes and service equipment failures.With the age of the transmission system comes more maintenance and repairs, these would fall under a utility company in conjunction with state energy agencies, and according to the report, are in fairly good order. There is no doubt that they are the most venerable to attack from forces from inside or outside the US. Terrorists have not in my opinion, used these to inflict damage to our power infrastructure as yet but would also damage the economy. Other parts of the system are local and involve lower voltage lines and involve much more switching and voltage transformation at the local level. These are old, worn and will fail when you don’t want them to. Generally, the utility company will wait until there is a major event and then replace or repair what is needed and then ask the PUC for more $$$$. The state of these are closely protected from the general public but I know from the industry that only a very small stockpile exists to repair only a very small part of the system. In a major failure, we would run out of parts within days and none would be available for weeks after that. So say a major surge in the system could cascade failures over several states at once. This potential in my opinion is very large and very possible.

Nuclear Plants. These necessary power sources are potential targets for those who wish to do us harm, many are also old, built in earthquake and flood areas. These are overseen by the Department of Energy. The Action Plan put forth by the NNSS, Strategic Plan, delves into all areas of Nuclear power and Nuclear Materials. From Weapons being decommissioned to new infrastructure being done at existing plants, there is information on all areas. I look at these  plants as a huge target for terror but these, unlike the power transmission lines and towers, have guards with guns. As Col Jessup said in A Few Good Men….You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. Well the fact is, yes we do need you there Col, and I sleep a little better knowing they will have a fight if they want it.

ROADS. Now I know from experience about California roads when I lived there, they are bad and the traffic is not human! Reason Foundation has done so much research on the current state of all roads and highways in the United States. They break information by state and try and rate where everyone stands, give the link a look, you may find it interesting. We finally made our move to Nevada from California this year. The road system in Nevada is excellent, California has some of the worst roads I have ever seen. I have lost 2 tires and 1 rim due to potholes. Traveling through Utah and Colorado this year, the roads are in great shape and begs the question, if CA, a rich state based on population cannot keep it’s roads in decent condition, how can smaller states do it? Come on guys, you would think the legislators own tire shops and front end alignment equipment….

Water Resources. The National Water Resources Association has information on a variety of topics but they all have to do with water storage and delivery systems, mostly in the western states. The link is to their information on Aging Infrastructure. According to the article, Many resources such water and power systems have reached the expected lifetime and will need work in the next decade in order to maintain service and they HAVE NO PLAN on what to do. Read the article but the hydroelectric power which is one of the most green power generation sources could fail with no replacements planned.

So POWER runs the plants, lights and heats the homes, make the street safe and fuel the economy. Roads move the people to the goods and services we sell, gives us access to jobs that pay the bills and move and deliver our food system all over the country. Water is probably more precious than food, power and the roads if you go by the rule of 3’s. It keeps our bodies alive, make the food grow, sustains the animals, and on a smaller note…powers the plants and lights the homes.

All so vital but so much not being taken care of. We, the people must do more for ourselves. Produce your own energy, grow your own food, pump you own water and live away from vulnerable areas. This is our goal here in Nevada, we should all, do more even if we are in an apartment in the city. Do all you can, you, be the one on that wall!

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