Grid power is a network of power providers that transport power to its consumers.
But the real question is, can you live without it? What if the grid went down? Could your family still function?
Much like our water source, we take for granted what supplies the means to our consumption. We use the electricity, but know very little about it.
This article will demystify the power grid and hopefully inspire you to be able to survive without it.
What does grid mean in power?
The electric grid is the power supply from the source to the consumer, whatever that source may be. Every time you turn on a light or plug something in, you are tapping into the power grid.
The ‘grid’ is controlled by the utility company and the government.
The oversight of the grid is the responsibility of a patchwork of federal and state authorities.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the primary authority over power generation and transmission across the United States.
How Does Power Grid Work?
There are three main power grids in the United States. Depending on where you live will determine which grid provides your power.
- The Eastern Interconnection, which operates in states east of the Rocky Mountains.
- The Western Interconnection, which covers the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountain states.
- The Texas Interconnected system.
The 3 Major Components Of The Power Grid
The grid consists of countless complex interconnections, however there are three main components of the power grid—electricity generation, transmission and distribution.
- Generation. Generation of power takes place at a power plant. Power plants generate electricity either by using flues such as natural gas or coal, or energy flows like wind, hydro, or solar.
- Transmission. The transmission of power happens when the power is transferred from the power pant, the generation, along the power lines, to the distribution centers.
- Distribution. Power is transferred from the main power source to substations that reduce the power voltage and distribute them to the consumers, that’s you and me.
What Happens When You Lose Power?
If you’ve ever experienced a power outage, you understand how much you rely on the grid power. How essential it is to your way of living.
When we lose power, somewhere between the generation and distribution has been disturbed or interrupted.
In the event of a power outage when the grid goes down, you may
- Not be able to use the phone.
- Not have lights or electricity.
- Unable to prepare food or make coffee.
- Lifesaving electronic devices won’t work, such as a CPAP machine.
- Unable to keep perishable food cold.
- Lose access to or the ability to heat water.
- Not be able to wash or dry clothes.
- Unable to heat your house during freezing temperatures or cool your home in a heat wave.
- Lose the ability to protect your land and livestock through loss of electric fencing or security devices.
- And many other things you rely on the grid for, not to mention your creature comforts.
- Unable to access your money, buy things, pay bills.
- Not able to charge your electric car and drive.
A question to ask yourself, how long could you go without the above? What is your backup plan for an alternative energy source? If you have a backup plan, how long would it last?
Why The Power Grid Isn’t Dependable
There are many reasons why the power grid isn’t dependable (see below) and why you should seek alternatives.
However, the main one that is at the top of my list is ‘do I really want someone else to have this much control over my quality of life?.
- Vulnerable to extreme weather events. Hurricanes, blizzards, floods, heat waves, wildfires, and even solar flares can overwhelm aging power lines.
- Cyber Attacks. Cyber attacks are increasing more and more every day. Interfering with everything from air transport to our power grid.
- Controlled rolling power outages. In order to conserve energy and prevent power outages, power companies purposefully turn the power off for a period of time. While this may help the grid during high-demand times, it certainly isn’t convenient for those relying on electricity.
- Increased demands on the power grid. As population increases, the development of modern technology, and not to mention ‘eco-friendly’ automobiles that reply of the grid for charge, the demands on the system increase.
- Age of the grid. The average age of power plants is over thirty years old, while power transformers are, on average, more than forty years old.
How To Live Without The Power Grid
In order to survive without the grid, you have to cut the head off the serpent. In this case, your dependency on the things that use the grid to begin with.
- What do you use that relies of grid power?
- Look at the list above ‘what happens when you lose power’. Ask yourself, how can you circumvent from losing power affecting these things?
- Would having a generator help? If so, would you be able to get enough gas for the generator to last for the time needed?
- Consider moving off grid?
- Alternative energy source such as solar?
- Here is a novel idea, what about going back in time and using the non-electric counterparts for everything you rely on electric for?
As an example, if you rely on electronic banking to make all of your purchases, consider keeping cash on hand in a safe place at home.
Do you have one of those fancy coffee pots with all the little push buttons and gizmos? Maybe consider investing in an old fashioned coffee percolator.
Every electronic device that you use that you can either A- replace with a non-electric version or B- provide your own independent power source for, frees you and makes you self-sufficient.