Massive U.S. Power Outages To Get Much Worse, More Frequent

  emotional weather report

Oh well, nothing good was planned anyway.Oh, sad face again: Millions are still without power in the U.S. Northeast, for about the fifth time this year. Whether caused by hurricanes, October blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes or mysteriously unknown reasons, the East Coast has been slammed by one catastrophic blackout after another. And experts say it’s just going to get worse, everywhere, as the “new abnormal” of constant horrific superstorms and other natural/unnatural disasters wreak havoc on the nation’s worn-out old power grid. Once the declining reserves of foreign oil stop flowing to America — and that can happen immediately with a simple organized shutdown of the major U.S. ports — we might as well walk away from our worthless over-mortgaged houses and just set up a tent in the woods. Not like we’ve got jobs to go to, or money to spend on more worthless plastic bullshit. God, capitalist civilization has turned out to be a massive fraud.

The New York Times reports today:

No one can know for sure if this is just the eternally unpredictable chaos of weather on earth or it is something more ominous; call it the new abnormal. But in recent years, suburban and rural residents have found themselves facing multiple disruptions like Mr. Frohne’s. Experts say the violent weather of the past few years in the Northeast is stressing the 20th century above-ground utility grid as never before, along with the people who depend on it.

Few solutions are in sight. A report by the Edison Electric Institute updated at the end of 2010 said that over the past 10 years, at least 11 states studied putting utility lines underground — usually after devastating storms — only to find it too expensive. “To date, no state utility commission has recommended wholesale undergrounding of the utility infrastructure,” it concluded.

Listen, we will help you with these problems: Live in a modestly-sized, well-insulated home. Use the last of your “consumer credit” to buy some solar panels and a solar hot-water system and maybe a low-profile wind-energy generator like the Windspire, and then cut up the cards and recycle the plastic and then recycle your mailbox, because you’re not going to repay these debts or any other debts, ever. Don’t watch teevee. Stay warm by exercising and having sex (with other people, not the computer). Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, round up all the media people and politicians and bank managers and Wall Street executives and dump them all into the (abandoned) corporate sporting event stadiums. Then they can use all those “dog eat dog” metaphors to stay alive. Build a snowman! Or gender-neutral Snow Being. Worship it, or not. Do some fruit and vegetable canning, give a hoot, etc. [NYT via The Awl]

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About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne

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182 comments

      1. Chichikovovich

        Yes, let's remember who the real victims are here, and light a candle (or use your "candle" app on the iphone) for the Northeast Wonkeurs and Wonkeuses, whose snark reserves may be dwindling into the red zone as we type.

      2. flamingpdog

        Here in the urban parts of the square state, most of our electric lines are underground, so even when we have a wet, heavy snow with leaves still on the trees like we did last night and today, I never have to worry about losing my connection to the Won

  1. Sue4466

    We could try energy conservation or improving our infrastructure, but fuck that. More tax cuts will solve this problem!

    American Exceptionalism!

    1. spends2much

      It's OK, in a few months President Perry can hold a big rally to pray for better weather. Except he'd probably give Jeebus a shout-out for hating on New York, so that won't help the East Coast much…

      1. SorosBot

        Still, bad snow is not a problem compared to a state literally being on fire. Where was Rick's Jesus last summer?

    2. Chichikovovich

      And don't forget making sure we set aside one day every week for Congress to debate and then reaffirm that "In God we Trust" is the US motto.

    3. OKthennext

      How is burying the freaking power lines ONCE "too expensive", compared to replacing the overhead lines Five Times Per Year!!???!!

      Math is hard?

  2. GunToting[Redacted]

    This is how society ends. Not with a bang, but with whatever sound a powerpole makes when it hits the ground.

      1. SorosBot

        We don't have to worry about anything like that; it's not like Wyoming is sitting on top of a supervolcano that's overdue for an eruption that would destroy most of the Western US and Canada or anything.

        1. Chichikovovich

          Oh, Oh. Calgary just elected a Muslim mayor. You northwest Wonkettistas, better invest in some magma-resistant siding. Just in case Pat Robertson is right for once. His losing streak can't keep up forever.

  3. BigDumbRedDog

    We don't need none of that socialist infrastructure here!!!!!1!!1! Pay for your own damn power grid, also!

  4. hagajim

    horrific superstorms

    Is this what they call the panel of GOP candidates (just with a shit inserted between super and storm)?

  5. Eve8Apples

    Get off your asses Job Creators! Upgrade the utility system and convert to renewable power resources. You don't expect the Kenyan socialist moozlin to do everything around here, do you?

    1. HistoriCat

      Nobody is going to get a bonus for a major expenditure which pays off over decades! What would the analysts think??

      1. yrbmegr

        So power companies get to lose money by operating below capacity because they can't afford to replace the wires blown down by the storms. That's an upside-down bass-ackwards catch 22 for a corporate person.

  6. proudgrampa

    "we might as well walk away from our worthless over-mortgaged houses and just set up a tent in the woods. Not like we’ve got jobs to go to, or money to spend on more worthless plastic bullshit. God, capitalist civilization has turned out to be a massive fraud. "

    I love you, Ken.

  7. ManchuCandidate

    I fully expect part of the increase in bad weather is due to hot air (from increased high pitched squealing denial) and increased methane levels due to more frequent feces throwing from the wingnutters and their 1% puppet masters.

    I would laugh at those fucks for being horribly wrong if not for the fact that I now have to roam the wastelands wearing hockey pads and assless chaps as I search for gas and dog food while singing "We don't need another hero."

    1. GhostBuggy

      I, for one, will choose the robes. Better to cover my hideous mutation from worshiping the unexploded nuclear bomb as a god in my underground lair.

    2. WunkRocker

      Look, I'm sure 99.9% of Wonkos have only seen chaps in gay-strip-black-light-enema-pits. But all chaps are assless. Assless chaps is like saying Adulterating Gingriches. Or fat-assed Limbaughs.
      **hmmm, I forgot about all the fucking lawyers on Harley Davidsons, those douchebags have seen chaps before. I was just thinking of the gay cowboys, not the gay bikers.***

    3. Dumbedup

      wait…still laughing! You don't have to wear assless chaps, or is that a requirement of the apocalypse?

      1. HateMachine

        You'd think we'd finally be free after the total collapse of civilization, but no. There's a dress code.

  8. Goonemeritus

    We just need to get one of the countries that really hate us to bomb us flat. Afterwards we could have jobs rebuilding it all shiny new think of all the problems this would solve.

  9. OccupytheDashboard

    Burying the wires…bad idea. There was a 70s documentary (i.e. bad B-horror movie) about how a broken wire fell on the ground in some southern swampy locale and the electricity turned the worms into squiggly little horror death machines. Think of Hitchcock's "The Birds"…except with worms.

      1. OccupytheDashboard

        Thanks!!! I couldn't remember the name of the flick to save my life. I kept looking up Worm!, Wurm, Vurm, etc.

    1. Chichikovovich

      It is a weakness of the administration's alternative energy policy that they haven't considered the possibility of electricity creating squiggly little horror death machines. You can bet Michele Bachmann is just itching to play the Killer Worm card.

  10. OneYieldRegular

    "No one can know for sure if this is just the eternally unpredictable chaos of weather on earth…"

    The NYT deserves to be buried in 100 meters of snow for allowing a line like that to pass the editorial desk.

  11. Mumbletypeg

    Today/ this year we are all "going to go spend more time with family" champions,
    as we step down from long-held mortgage-balancing and WalMart $ale stampeding obligations; instead, playing board games by candlelight and singing "Pop-tarts roasting on an open fire"~

    1. Ken Layne

      Power outage nights are *always* the most fun nights around here. Board games and guitars and the fireplace and the kids scaring the shit out of each other with ghost stories is so much better than "can we please watch our hour of dvd now?"

      1. Mumbletypeg

        Agreed. As long as what goes *bump* in the night isn't an overturned lit candle in chain reaction to an especially frightening story!
        Charades too, also — nice shadowy effects, and again, mind the open flames.

  12. SorosBot

    That picture looks like there's, at most, an inch or two of snow. Where is that from that's so wimpy that they'd cancel anything for such a tiny amount of snow?

  13. Schmannnity

    Is it remotely possible that utilities should be spending more on infrastructure and hardening transmission wires and less on dividends?

    1. prommie

      The invisible hand says they can do whatever the fuck they want, because they are a monopoly, and the customers can fuck off if they don't like it.

  14. NorthStarSpanx

    Perhaps maybe, the Common-Sense-Conservative-Time-Tested-Truths of scorched earth solutions are appropriate here? Raze all the bothersome trees in the Northeast (bonus: for GOP direct mailers) and the problem of union maintenance and clean-up is done with. And think of all the lost revenue by free market energy suppliers. . .

    Now Huntsman, the man whose family is in the business in handling that rascally fungible commodity (oil,) where in your domestic oil drilling policy unveiled today does it address this curious predicament not at all dependent on the foreign oil market?

  15. elviouslyqueer

    Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, round up all the media people and politicians and bank managers and Wall Street executives and dump them all into the (abandoned) corporate sporting event stadiums.

    Better yet, gather up all the morbidly obese people and harvest their excess blubber for heating oil. Shit, the sheer number of folks in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia alone should be enough to keep us warm until approximately 2074.

    1. ProgressiveInga

      Hey, watch it. I live in GA and we need those phatties here as a deterrent. Nothing makes me work harder on the elliptical machine than being in the row behind a 350+ lb. 27-year old watching Paula Deen cooking up a mess of deep-fried-butter-on-a-stick on The Food Channel!

  16. SayItWithWookies

    Geeze Ken, it's like you think turning every aspect of American society into a commodity isn't necessarily good for people. Turns out that the real problem is we haven't commodified enough of America yet — as soon as those horrible utilities shut down and people build their own power grids out of foil gum wrappers and looted copper cables, our energy problems will solve themselves.

  17. freakishlywrong

    Today, we are all worn out old power grids denying climate change and living in igloos. Eating bankers.

  18. jodyleek

    But Ken, what about my vibrators? Is there a solar panel version of the Rabbit Pearl or the Hitachi wand?

          1. horsedreamer_1

            Since you're elviouslyqueer, I am forced to assume your disdain for Simmons is a product of antisemitism.

      1. jodyleek

        Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I have sex with the Hitachi wand AND a penis, at the same time! My husband likes to think his penis is magical, but it can't be two places at the same time, if you know what I mean, and I think you do…

    1. Ken Layne

      Rechargeable batteries don't care whether the recharging energy comes from Saudi Terrorist Oil or that thing up there, whatever it's called, the "Day Moon."

      1. Naked_Bunny

        They will once manufacturers start digitally signing your batteries so they can only be used with approved chargers.

  19. widestanceshakedown

    Can't we just render the poor, since they're so full of unused HFCS-generated BTUs anyway?

        1. jus_wonderin

          Well, yes. But, they are the same McRibs we have in the Present. Have you ever wondered why those are only on the menu intermittently? An evervigilant semi-truck roves the continent to keep the stockpile of McRibs safe from terrorists.

  20. Monsieur_Grumpe

    I happen to be deigning some electronic stuff for this so called smart grid and I'd like to think I have a fairly accurate assessment of the state of the infrastructure. All I can say is the wolves need to eat too.

    1. emmelemm

      Without snark…

      Really? Cool. (About the designing part, not so much the wolves part, although, I like wolves, so if my fate is to be eaten by a wolf in our long apocalyptic winter, I can accept that.)

  21. McRibzgood

    For Ken this is a pretty happy post. Normally when I see his name on the by-line I expect a story about radioactive zombies with killer bees coming to kill me.

    1. HateMachine

      It's happy-ish because Ken is getting pre-nostalgic for the post-apocalypse.

      Hell, after playing Fallout: New Vegas I can't say I wouldn't have a good time in the wasteland.

  22. coolhandnuke

    To stay warm I've been burning my Y2K Survival Kits.
    Yep, someday our mortal Tesla coil will run out of juice.

    1. Eve8Apples

      Bibles make great kindling, and the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons will deliver them to your house for free.

  23. BaldarTFlagass

    Now is the time to patent my hamster-wheel electrical generator and buy a chain of pet stores!!!

    1. Chichikovovich

      Me, I'm going to retire on the profits that are going to roll in from my combination Liposuction Clinic – Kerosene Lamp Supply franchises.

    2. Ken Layne

      At #OWS, you can charge your cell phone from an exercise-bicycle-powered generator … or volunteer for a 15 minute turn at being the actual source of energy. It is fun!

  24. Blueb4sunrise

    This is why learning drumming is important. We'll still be able to snark over long distances by banging on abandoned SUVs.

  25. CZL

    Every time I read a Ken Layne post I end up wanting to die. If I had a gun right now I'd shoot myself.

    1. ProgressiveInga

      No 2nd Amendment remedies, plz. Cheer up, the Hermanator hasn't dropped out of the race yet! Comedy will likely ensue………

  26. BigDumbRedDog

    This is why I'm looking forward to the zombie apocalypse. Because things can't really get any worse, right?

    1. snarkycomments

      Just so long as it's "Walking Dead" zombies not "I am Legend" zombies. I sit in front of the computer too much to outrun those leaping freaks from the Will Smith movie.

  27. donner_froh

    Stay warm by exercising and having sex (with other people, not the computer)
    I will stay warm by having sex with myself–it's free and I'm doing it with someone I love.

    1. Chichikovovich

      And, as Jean Paul Sartre said (really, he did!): The pleasure given equals the pleasure received.

    2. jus_wonderin

      Totally agree. But sometimes, I have a headache. And the times I have to fake it make me feel guilty.

  28. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Haven't you been listening to Glenn Beck? This is all because we elected a Black Socialist President. It is God's revenge. Now is we would just elect someone that would fully privatise the electrical system, as God intended, all would be fine. After all, that worked out wonderfully for California early last decade, didn't it?

  29. Trannysurprise

    one catastrophic blackout after another

    I'm pretty sure the ignorant hillbillys in the South think this means something different than it does.

  30. MzNicky

    Oh, for cryin' out loud. This is all a big fraud being perpetrated on the US taxpayer by socialist fake scientists who serve as foot soldiers for Al Gore, who is fat and is laughing at everyone from his 300,000-sq.-ft. house with its giant heated helioport. All y'all just simmer down and quit hating America.

  31. Redhead

    I knew this was going to be a Ken story the minute I saw the headline in my RSS feed, before I even opened the page.

    Now, if God really did exist, he'd bury Palin and Bachmann and the rest of the clowns in one of these massive snow drifts, where they'd be found next spring.

  32. RadioOcupados

    Remember when that Mr. Obama guy talked about modernizing the grid to accommodate renewable energy sources? Fuck, the only thing he renewed was the Bush tax cuts.

  33. PhilippePetain

    "Yeah, we COULD make some needed infrastructure changes that keep the olds warm at night, but that's just too expensive. Meanwhile, did you know that the Tower Heist is available on On Demand for the low price of $60 on openeing night and comes with a free coupon for pig-anus pizza?

    Please, INDULGE. YOU ARE ALL KINGS."

      1. PhilippePetain

        My friend just saw that they were advertising the same time opening on on demand so that you could watch it in your home for the same price as…three movie tickets and I basically was like what the fuck. Either Brett Ratner has an even more ridiculous ego than previously imagined or they really expect rich fucks to like this piece of shit.

        Anyway, Fuck all that shit.

  34. chicken_thief

    "Stay warm by exercising and having sex (with other people, not the computer). "

    If the fucking CEO of a major pizza chain can't get some pussy on the side, what chance do I have?!!!

  35. bflrtsplk

    Darkness darkness
    Be my pillow
    Take my hand
    Let me sleep
    In the coolness of your shadow
    In the silence of your deep.

  36. DaRooster

    Have the military put them lines underground… they'll need something to do when they get back… since war is over.

  37. Antispandex

    See what happens when we don't let the free market handle these things? Um, I mean, see what happens when the government won't let the private companies rebuild America?…no, wait that's not it either. See, less regulation…and, tax cuts… Ah, crap, I give up.

  38. prommie

    I need to know how many people are coming with me, so I know how big a boat to get. A sailboat. Who's with me? Caribbean situation, Robinson-Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson Commune scenario?

  39. HistoriCat

    round up all the media people and politicians and bank managers and Wall Street executives and dump them all into the (abandoned) corporate sporting event stadiums.

    Uh, Ken – some people might say that you could be considered a "media person".

  40. emmelemm

    Seriously, though, my mom just read this book called "Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects" by Dmitri Orlov and it basically says exactly that:

    Get some solar panels for your house/hut/hovel now, because when oil becomes too scarce not just to feed the cars, but to generate electricity, our shit is going to unravel, and faster than anyone can imagine.

    Get some chickens and goats, too, also.

    1. natoslug

      I've got chickens, goats and sheep, and just installed solar hot water, as well as all of the conduit and infrastructure for PV. Unfortunately, I'm short of funds for the actual panels. Hopefully one of my neighbors will install some soon and the Invisible Hand and I can go confiscate them.

      1. emmelemm

        Sheep! I considered sheep, but I think the process of shearing, carding, spinning, knitting, etc. is just too much. There will be plenty of sweaters to scavenge until the end of time.

        1. natoslug

          I got little Scottish sheep: Soay. They need rooing, not shearing, so you just pull the wool. And they're much easier on the land than regular sheep. Although when one of the little bastards nails you in the knees while trying to escape, it can be quite unpleasant (they aren't exactly domesticated).

          1. emmelemm

            They need rooing, not shearing, so you just pull the wool.

            So, you brush them, then? Like l'il kitties?

            Anyway, kudos on the mini-farm. I may have to come live with you, in the endtimes.

    1. emmelemm

      And tax cuts. Moar tax cuts. With tax cuts, corporations will have money to invest in alternative technologies. Right? Right?

      {sob}

  41. Dumbedup

    O.K, so making a list here based on all the wise advice in these comments, so uh, assless chaps, solar panels, non digital porn and vodka (that last one is my suggestion).

  42. datateday

    "God, capitalist civilization has turned out to be a massive fraud. "
    Not really. With the lease of your tents expired, I get 'em back. Works well, I say!

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