Recent vandalism of electrical power stations and the rolling blackouts associated with record cold temperatures have shed a light on an issue that politicians and global climate experts have ignored as they’ve pushed for green energy development- our infrastructure is aging and in desperate need of protection.

For several years, power companies have been dealing with vandalism that has taken down electrical systems on a region by region basis. Little has been said about these events to avoid unwanted attention to the ease of creating havoc in the electrical power grid that could be easily copied in other locations.

In November a Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative substation in Maysville was vandalized, resulting in a power outage for about 12,000 customers for two hours. Then, on Dec. 3, vandals shot at a Duke Power substation in Moore County which darkened the homes and businesses of approximately 40,000 customers for a week.

These events were followed by similar acts of vandalism on power systems in Washington state and Oregon. In Tacoma, WA burglars broke through fences at Puget Sound Energy, vandalizing the substation, which resulted in 14,000 customers losing power for over 17 hours on Sunday, Christmas Day.

Kim Bellware, reporting on the story for the Washington Post, noted that “these incidents come as a rise in the number of human-caused power grid attacks and disruptions deepen concerns over the vulnerability of the United States’ aging and strained grid infrastructure.”

The “strained grid structure” of the nation’s infrastructure was felt across the country Christmas week as power companies struggled to fulfill growing service demands as the country was gripped by record setting cold temperatures.

Because of excessive demands for the state’s energy needs during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Duke Energy instituted rolling blackouts that left many without power for upwards to four hours when temperatures were at their lowest.

For Carteret County residents on both the Duke and Carteret Craven system there was another reminder of the stresses on the county’s grid system on New Year’s Eve, as over 20,000 customers were without power again for almost four hours.

None of these outages or rolling blackouts are new. They have been experienced over the past decade in other regions such as in California this past summer and in Texas in Feb. 2021. Texas was a significant story as an ice storm created power outages across the state resulting in hundreds of deaths and almost $195 billion in property damage.

Now that North Carolina is the 10th largest state in the union and one of the fast growing states in the country, it has joined those other more industrialized states that have had to deal with stresses on their infrastructure.

As Gov. Roy Cooper, along with federal regulators, are demanding answers from the utility companies, it would be appropriate for the governor to look within the state government for answers as well.

The various utilities, water, electrical and communications systems are operated by private companies that fall under the rubric of a government controlled monopoly. Due to the expense of operations and the need to provide service to a broad region, privately operated utility companies enjoy a monopoly within designated geographic regions.

To assure the customers of these utilities are being treated fairly and appropriately, the private companies are subject to government oversight through utility commissions which negotiate fees and services on behalf of the public. In addition to oversight of fee structures, utility commissions also approve the construction of infrastructure for these services through various regulatory commissions.

So, while it is the utility that is ultimately responsible for the security and stability of the services being provided, the local, state and even federal governments play a key role in the process, a role that, based on recent events, has been ignored.

But it is more than the electric power grid that needs attention; so do our water and communications systems and gas pipelines.

On several occasions, breaks in the nation’s fiber-optic system have shut down communications in broad regions of the county. In May of 2021, a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline disrupted the flow of fuel for the southeastern region of the country, which required emergency fuel supplies to keep the region’s economy operating. The problem was eventually solved after a $4.4 million ransom was paid by the pipeline company.

An often overlooked utility that is slowly coming to the forefront of concern is water infrastructure. While the west is suffering from years of drought that have dried up water resources, large cities such as Jackson, MS have discovered that their water systems are failing due to water intrusion.

In August of this year, Jackson’s water system was contaminated by the Pearl River, which flooded the city following heavy rainfall. Corrective action following the flood uncovered pre-existing conditions that resulted in the federal government stepping to manage and operate the city’s water system. In the meantime, Jackson’s 180,000 residents were forced to rely on bottled water for almost two months. The system failed again over the Christmas holiday.

For too long politicians have been responding to the panicked calls from global climate activists to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and focus instead on “green” or renewable energy. In the process of throwing time and money at these questionable endeavors, little has been done to strengthen and secure our existing distribution systems - the infrastructure.

With the continuing degradation of infrastructures in all the utility systems across the country, more focus is needed on the maintenance and expansion of these systems now, before it is too late. That focus begins with governments at every level, federal, state and local, working with their various utility companies to assure the delivery systems are functional, adequate and secure.

(33) comments

David Collins

Obviously we must double down , no triple down , and build more wind and solar devices . Devices that fail when most needed . What does not fail is the seemingly endless flow of cash to the developers , foreign and domestic by the idealists in positions of power . Same thing for our new enlightened military leadership . Could go on but for what purpose ?

Infrastructure , real necessary basic infrastructure not some made up version , has always been the red headed stepchild when it comes to maintenance . Out of sight and mind until it fails and then only worthy of a band aid . Strong focus is on parks trails and other feel good diversions along with of course equity , what ever that is . Guess that we all should be equally blessed with failing water , sewer and electricity .

Happy 2023 !

kenwood12

The goal of eliminating the use of fossil fuels has nothing to do with the problems, neglect, of our infrastructure, highlighted in this piece. The failures in our infrastructure are due in large part to corrupt politicians. Jackson Mississippi's water problems are a prime example, as is the same state's family assistance program. Taxpayer dollars winding up in the pockets of those responsible for maintaining our facilities. Though it is worthy for this page to highlight our infrastructure problems, it is disingenuous to infer that "green energy development" is the cause. The cause simply put is due in large part to the inept / crooked "leaders" we, the voters put in place. The recently enacted federal infrastructure bill is designed to address many of the problems highlighted in this piece. One wonders though how many taxpayer dollars in this bill will wind up lining the pockets of those same "leaders."

drewski

Water will one day be more critical then oil. Locally so much water has been pumped from the castle hayne aquifier ( that supplies us all) that salt water is flowing into our fresh water supply. The local response to this pending disaster is to approve another well on E/I, thus drawing out even more water, and approving high density developments in the western part of the country putting further strain on the water supply. Time for a moratorium on new wells, and rethink the "lets profit while we can" mindset of the county commissioners. people take clean water totally for granted, till its no longer clean or available.

Big Fat Drunk Republican

Another reckless letter from our good editor.

It’s well known those behind grid and infrastructure terror use obstructionist efforts to distort and create more to lose faith in our Gov. playing into the dud information campaign to further divide us. Why is the good editor using cut and paste info to further the agenda of those who want to take our nation on a path the civil unrest?

Right wing extremist feel that disrupting the electrical supply will disrupt the ability of government to operate, secondly, by conducting attacks against the communications and electrical infrastructure, it will actually accelerate the coming civil war that they anticipate because it will disrupt the lives of so many people that they will lose faith in government.

The CCNT should know better than be a part of this.

Yaasssss Queen! You’re right again.

How could the editor reeklessly publish another whright wing letter without noting the damage it’s causing to our democracy. What about noting the authors pronouns? i recognize and acknowledge the damage this kind of talk is causing to the new Weimerica.

Silence is violence, words hurt really bad, and CCNT should know better than to be apart this kind of free speech.

Shame they/them. We are one day away from the anniversary of the deadly insurrection that occurred on the capital, have some respect CCNT! RIP Officer SickNick.

Theodore

(Zim/Zer)

Sleepwalker

Loose faith in the government? That ship sailed some time ago for lots of folks.

the secret life of man

Amen brother Collins

mpjeep

I second the Amen to David. My power was out for 5.5 hours. Unacceptable!

David Collins

When you have fewer and fewer reliable electricity producers available to draw from during adverse conditions , expect more and more blackouts . Certainly transmission lines and their associated kit are essential for all this to function as planned so proper upkeep/modernization is a top priority . Ever increasing population shifts to the area only add to this pressure on what we call utilities . Problem is we fail to plan/manage growth with all these factors considered . No one supposedly “ in charge “ has the vision needed to forestall what appears to be inevitable and the fortitude to say STOP . Truly one of those “ the emperor wears no clothes “ moments . Yes , this area could well become the next Jackson Mississippi or Flint Michigan if we continue down this road . Have not even touched on the dismal ways we handle waste disposal . Another out of sight , out of mind subject . Perhaps for another day .

Everyone has long known that sabotaging the power grid is well loved by all folks that lean to the right . Certainly inbred by Satan himself . My, my , so sad . Civil War 2.0 and all that rubbish . Oh well , back to the Pub for another round .

The current Green/renewable technologies are in their infancy stage . Wind turbines are getting larger along with their output but are beset with physical limitations . Energy can not be created or destroyed , just transferred from one source to another . No wind , no transfer . Period

Solar actually shows the most promise for major gains in efficiency . Did you know that they can actually generate measurable electricity at night ? Not enough to do anything but it is there . Perhaps moors law will kick in and boost the technology .

All this is nice . We need all the help we can get but not ready for prime time as of yet .

Big Fat Drunk Republican

David is right. It’s obvious the quest for renewable energy is going to be the end of the ability of grid to transfer energy.

drewski

Anti green energy talking points are a darling of the right wing, from charlie kirk talking to teens, to our own editor trying to conflate neglected infrastructure with green energy spending. it is a foolish and silly argument to suggest since you cannot run your home on a single AA battery there should be no AA batteries until they have improved.

Big Fat Drunk Republican

You guys are right. My great, great grandad always said we were foolish too move away from the fire place to the heat pump.

We were dumb to think the automobile will ever work.

Why should we use light bulbs instead candles.

I recall telling yall these new lightbulbs wouldn’t work either.

Then I remember my granddaddy telling me NASA was stupid and a waste of time. Modern man would gain nothing from such a think tank of scientist and engineers.

My grandaddy said the radio was fine, don’t need no stinking TV.

My dad told me that the internet would never work. Said people don’t need or have computers.

The bottom line is others in here are exactly right. Why should we keep investing in new, cleaner sources of energy. We should just stop innovating and fight evolving tooth and nail.

These liberal/ communist just want to ruin our lives with clean energy, air and water. Do not buy into the Marxist agenda like clean air, clean water and clean energy, it’s only going to ruin your life.

Doc Epoch

The Left’s attempt at humor is becoming desperate and lame. It’s as effective as their sixth booster.

Big Fat Drunk Republican

There’s no comedy in truth.

Sleepwalker

“Power”…”utilities”…etc are a for profit commodity. I certainly hope taxpayer dollars aren’t spent on repairs/security for these things…

Big Fat Drunk Republican

Tax $ goes into fossil fuels, we just don’t like to talk about that.

David Collins

You are ABSOLUTELY correct BFDR . Old bungles has spent untold quantities of those taxpayer $ draining and now replenishing our strategic oil stockpile .

Big Fat Drunk Republican

At a large profit. Buy back the strategic when oil is low. Ol Bungles should play the markets!

Doc Epoch

+10% for the Big Guy

David Collins

Was reported today that old bungles and crew has included Climate in their definition of infrastructure . Gotta love a guy that never fails to please . At least he is well on his way of confirming my prediction so there is some solace there .

drewski

Ahh those pesky facts, as many presidents have done Biden used the oil reserve to try to stabilize the oil market. The WSJ a known conservative publication owned by Rupurt Murdock, tells us " U.S. Scores $4 Billion Windfall on Oil-Reserve Sales " replacing the sold oil is being done on contract designed to kick in at set contract prices. For someone who is so frequently called " bungles" in this forum he sure seems to have accomplished much of his agenda despite near blanket opposition from the other side. Perhaps we could be objective and compare and contrast with the previous admin? naw.. lets call names and make things up instead.

Sleepwalker

“Accomplishment much of his agenda”…. That’s nothing to brag on. What was once light is now dark…what was once dark is now light. You go to church (you stated before)…

NeroFiddles4PhotoOps

Past administrations have executed emergency releases of relatively small quantities of oil from the reserves to temporarily mitigate supplies in response to natural disasters like Katrina in 2005 or other emergent world events, but not for personal or political gains to deflect from their parties failed energy, monetary and fiscal policies in advance of an election. Biden’s “emergency” was a desperate attempt to temporarily deflect attention from the disastrous consequences of his misguided policies in advance of the mid-term election. His request to the Saudis in October 2022 to postpone the cut in OPEC oil production “until after the elections” speaks volumes about his true motivation.

Looks like the peak strategic reserve of around 726 million barrels was in late 2010, and current reserves after Biden’s unprecedented cumulative release is now just over 372 million barrels as of 30 December 2022 according to the US Energy Administration U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis (https://www.eia.gov/opendata/v1/qb.php?sdid=PET.WCSSTUS1.W). According to their data, current levels are at the lowest they have been since December 1983. When Biden took office, the reserves were a little over 638 million barrels. Seems foolish to deplete the strategic oil reserves to a 40-year low while simultaneously provoking Russia to the brink of “Armageddon” (Biden comments 10/6/22) and passively watching China progressively move unchecked toward confrontation with Taiwan.

Any idiot can “score a windfall” when they sell oil from the reserves at market prices well above the price that others stocked it at. Given the strategic intent for the reserves, those that make the investment decisions to stock and maintain it are the ones that should be celebrated. Wonder how long we will have to wait for oil prices to drop below the contract threshold prices necessary to trigger replenishment? Seems counterintuitive to recklessly deplete the nation’s strategic reserves with a promise of replenishment tied to a fall in prices when this administration is actively driving prices up and domestic availability down with their misguided energy policies.

mpjeep

Bungles has sold more US emergency petroleum supplies to foreign countries than any president in history while telling US citizens to buy electric vehicles.

Bungles sends $8 billion to South Africa to shut down coal plants.

Bungles trades a Russian terrorist arms dealer, the “Merchant of Death,” for a Woke US celebrity athlete who hates America.

Bungles threatened to pull federal funding of public schools if males identifying as females couldn’t use girls' bathrooms.

Bungles sought to force Americans to vaccinate against Covid, as he failed in the surge to prevent the variant.

Bungles has been colluding with the corrupt FBI and Big Tech to suppress free speech, and about all that is left is freedom of “thought.”

Can it get any better?

David Collins

Guess you fail to grasp the purpose of the oil reserve . Not for reducing the price at the pump but if and when all goes to h**l . Not to hide a self induced problem . Like so many others they have pulled out of their collective hind parts . Like shutting down the keystone that he now admits was not the best of decisions . Like now supposedly going to the southern border , now that he is having things sanitized in order to paint a pretty picture . The guy is a joke but I wish him a long life for what follows behind is far worse . A true traveling circus .

dc

Speaking of infrastructure weaknesses maybe after finally visiting the border fir the 2nd time and heaping praises on those trying to follow orders not to defend it he can convince his rino friends to pass a few more trillion with nothing but their pork to help rather fight the cartels. Wait the one he calls president has already solved the problem by meeting with somebody somewhere. Maybe he can take the boy with him to make some deals with them and sell a little drug-induced art on the side.

David Collins

How short sighted of me . Age and late nights will bring that on .

Reserve was filled with oil at high 30s to 40s priced oil . All bought and paid for by taxpayers . Stored and kept ready for use when need should arise . Paid for by taxpayers . Released and distributed at some price , again paid for by taxpayers . Now the piggy bank is empty . So , in order to refill requires purchasing oil at todays market prices . Just checked and that price is $78/bl plus what ever it costs to put it into said piggy bank .

Yeah boy , a real financial genius old bungles is . Best part is the whole fiasco was and is not necessary . Should his team of fools have left things alone there would have been plenty for all . But no , the desire to fundamentally change everything due to the sirens call from people like AOC and other like minded ideology driven zealots was far more attractive to dazed and confused bungles . “ we want total green renewable energy and we want it now “ is their battle cry . Then there is the money factor and the legacy factor .

Well , we are stuck with him and them for now . Can only hope cooler heads can muzzle some of this madness . Just like matters of the heart , making haste slowly leads to a much better result .

Big Fat Drunk Republican

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you. Who would’ve thought it out that including climate change in infrastructure would be a good idea.

I mean, I mean we should just continue building infrastructure without a plan for water rise, electric grid and transportation of the future.

We should just stare at the sun, stick our fingers in our ears and babble over any innovation ideas.

dc

Using a little common sense might help. He said he was going to destroy the oil industry. Better hope it's far after he's long gone otherwise those tourists might have to walk here.

dc

That goes for the campers too. Although some like to walk many would find it a little inconvenient. But at least they wouldn't be delayed by the light in Maysville.

dc

Could it be that old bungles unintentionally does some natives and ding batters a favor? Can hear William Bendix now, "what a revolting development this is" or will be.

David Collins

Could it be that one reason old bungles has distain for the oil industry is that it did not pour money into his campaign or perhaps not put sonny boy on it’s board of directors ? You know how bungles loves a dollar .

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