Comment: Maybe

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In reply to comment: Should we be scared (see in situ)

Maybe

A solar flare of the magnitude recorded during the early 1860's (aurora borealis visible in Southern AR) could knock out much of the electrical grid and communications in the US. Basically the mode of failure is that a substation ground grid would pick up the energy and current would flow backwards into the transformers possibly causing faults and failures. In more northerly latitudes this is protected against witha reverse current relay on the transformer grounding, but in the US and most of europe this ahs never beena serious concern enough to retrofit thousands of transformers. Of course no one knows what would go down, but solar flares have caused grid failures before, and one as big as historically recorded is likely an order of magnitude larger than the largest measured in modern times. This is one of the most realistic threats to the grid in the US outside of liquered up farmers taking pot shots at the transformers (which does happen, and causes much damage upon occasion)rather than any sort of cyber attack which the press love to talk about. Currently the power industry is being forced to spend significant resources on cyber security (which actually centalizes access and makes a successful attack more likely)when any terrorist cell could probably take down the grid and get away with a couple deer rifles and a map of several substation locations.

Josh Brueggen
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