Edited by Harry W Richardson, Peter Gordon and James E. Moore II
Chapter 13: Worst-case Electricity Scenarios: The Benefits and Costs of Prevention
13. Worst-case electricity scenarios: the beneﬁts and costs of prevention Lester B. Lave, Jay Apt and Granger Morgan WHY CARE ABOUT ELECTRICITY? The US electricity system is vulnerable to human attack. Like virtually every part of the US economy, the US electricity system was not designed to foil sabotage. That is not surprising, since there was little threat when it was designed and built. We show that there are many beneﬁts to the US economy from a thoughtfully designed system that would lessen the ability of terrorists to create major problems. Why should we be concerned about electricity? (1) A blackout would paralyze nearly the whole economy in the aﬀected region; (2) the electricity sector is particularly vulnerable to sabotage; and (3) a reliable, low-cost electricity supply is needed for the development of the US economy. When the electricity system fails, people ﬁnd it diﬃcult to commute (no traﬃc signals or trains), get up and down in buildings (no elevator), work (no lights, computers, copiers or faxes), cook (no microwave ovens, refrigerators, electric appliances, or solid state ignition to light natural gas stoves), and suﬀer a degraded living situation (no heating or air conditioning, TV, VCR or radio). On 14 August 2003, 50 million people from Cleveland to Detroit to Toronto to New York City suddenly found themselves without electricity. Essentially all businesses, electric trains, water treatment facilities and other activities powered by electricity stopped. New Yorkers found themselves stranded in a city without...
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