Are Large Transformers A Threat to National Security?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) assessed the vulnerability of the large power transformers of the U.S. power grid and identified the vulnerability of the transformers as a major national security concern.

"The U.S. electric power grid is one of the Nation’s critical life-line infrastructure on which many other critical infrastructure depend, and the destruction of this infrastructure can cause a significant impact to national security and the U.S. economy."

I'm including this report in my blog because the vulnerability of our transformers is a crucial aspect of the realistic mechanism of destruction depicted in my thriller Patriarch Run. You can learn more about this national security threat in my Discussion Guide.

The video above gives a good sense of what a large transformer would look like if it were destroyed. There are about 2,100 large transformers in America's grid. When they go down, the surrounding grid goes down. The reason why the experts are concerned about them is that they're easy to destroy and difficult to replace.

These large transformers are handmade and take years to manufacture when our infrastructure is working perfectly. If enough of them were damaged as a part of a single event, the entire grid could be lost. (You can read my Discussion Guide to learn about the types of events that could destroy a large number of transformers.) If enough transformers were destroyed, it is possible society would collapse before replacement transformers could be installed.

That last statement might surprise you. It's a worrisome problem. Without the use of widespread, reliable electricity, we could not grow, process, and transport enough food to feed the population. We could not distribute clean drinking water to our cities or provide sanitation or healthcare. There would be no commerce as we have come to know it. Such a collapse would probably result in widespread starvation, the reintroduction of diseases vanquished by modern sanitation, unprecedented social unrest, and a skyrocketing mortality rate.

My thriller Patriarch Run depicts this threat with great accuracy, and there is plentiful information on this blog for those who want to understand the relationship between electricity and our food supply.


Benjamin Dancer

Benjamin is the author of the literary thriller Patriarch Run, the first book in a series that will include Fidelityand The Story of the Boy. He also writes about parenting, education, sustainability and national security.

Benjamin works as an Advisor at a Colorado high school where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. His work with adolescents has informed his stories, which are typically themed around fatherhood and coming-of-age.

You can connect with Benjamin by signing up for his newsletter below and by participating in the conversation at his blog.