Know the age, condition, and logistics of local utilities. Plan and prepare accordingly. They will not be as reliable as we hope.

Whilst we all know and accept the wisdom of keeping gravity water filters, portable or back up power systems, stored water / bore holes, self defence and your own medical supplies because its just common sense.  There is further wisdom in each of us individually investigating the AGE, Physical Condition and seeking out LOCAL information on the LOGISTICS side of your local UTILITIES.

IE How old is the power generation and distribution system in your district, Is your community one of those whose usage of power has risen to match the growing consumption of energy associated with the surge of AIRCON and the massive surge of DOMESTIC TECHNOLOGY??

And has the PHYSICAL power supplies distribution chain been upgraded to meet the new demand, especially in places like Silicon Valley and more importantly the surrounding communities where most people reside.

(Who has not seen the reports of utility companies turning off power supplies at times of peak demand in a vainglorious attempt to prevent utility created WILD FIREs.)

(Who is not aware of the 2 week long ice storm of 2010 that crippled much of the UK. Or the winter storms of 2020 that plunged huge areas of Texas into darkness ?)

Starting off at idiot level, how many power cuts does your district suffer in a normal year BEFORE extreme weather or climate change affects such incidents?

The more we look the more sense it makes to increase your levels of preparedness to mitigate against the INCREASING frequency of prolonged power outages ( at the worst possible time)

That was just discussing ELECTRICITY supplies.  Now consider your water supplies.

(Look at the growing water crisis in the US south west and the UK south east)

Yes folks we are now getting to the stage where you simply can no longer EXPECT the water to come out of the tap (UK) faucet(US) when you turn it on.

Preparing not only for our changing climate and increasing reliance on energy means that more than ever we must ALWAYS BE VIGILANT. The time for complacency has passed. Remember Prepping is about being ready BEFORE it hits the fans, being PROactive not REACTIVE.

One wayward ship getting stuck in the Suez canal and the simple shortage of workers (and shipping containers)  has seen billions of lost dollars in commerce and insane shortages of chips/ miroprocessors crippling many industries ( I truly despise the JUST IN TIME global logistics systems, its a disaster waiting to happen).

So if your utilities are aged and under resourced, and at risk from increasing demand or climate change then put down your Soy Lattes and Cappuccinos  and do something to make sure you are not the next name on a casualty list.

california wild fire 2019

California Wild fire 2020

Chicago 1980sDisaster FlodHouston 17 2 (Large)


  • Comments (16)

    • 6

      Footnote *

      I recently had a chat with someone who has a small technology company at the tech park near my home, he knew of my long association with prepping and was keen to tell me about the back up genny and battery system they have in their facility. He clearly had listened to good advice but had made one near fatal error.

      The company had installed a modest back up genny and batteries when they first set up ( bout 7 years ago) . I asked how often it was serviced……….Confused and Embarrased looks front and center, they had never checked the back up system because it had never been needed.

      Anyway cutting to the chase, some of the batteries were dead and the diesel fuel had not been treated with preservative and it was mouldy and slimey.  PREpare but dont neglect maintenance.

    • 4

      Great topic Bill, and something that has been on my mind. To learn about the age and condition of your local utilities, do you recommend calling the company and asking or taking a tour of the facility?

      Also, I expanded the title of the post to draw more people in about what the topic is about. Feel free to edit the title further if you don’t feel like it was what you were going for.

      • 5

        The Company itself MAY give you the info you NEED, under a freedom of information request. But your local library, your civic council also may have that information and sometimes structures like Power pylons and Sub Stations have plaques stating their commissioning dates, the same applies to pumping stations, dams, water towers, gas lines, oil lines. Plus buying your local linesman a beer can often result in information galore.

        Remember the first thing utilities cut back on in hard times is maintenance.

    • 4

      Outages have always been a possibility they are simply one aspect of “normal” emergencies.  Pay attention to weather conditions and prepare for electrical interruptions.  I keep some small, portable solar panels and power banks ready to go, plus our vehicles, another source of power.

      Have enough to keep some lights on at night and keep your phone charged, at a minimum.  It is no big deal…..

      • 4

        It will be a big deal though if you don’t have power to your refrigerator and freezer for 2 to 3 days though right? Sounds like you have the basics of light and small electronics covered pretty well though.

    • 5

      I’ve been very blessed to never have lived in an area where utilities struggled or were cut off for prolonged periods of time. Maybe 2-3 times a year the power might be off for thirty minutes or so. But I am not going to be ignorant and say that it will never happen to me. 

    • 4

      In my neighborhood our electric company is replacing all of the power poles, cleaning out the sewage, and replacing gas lines. For months we have had disruptions with many utility vehicles on our streets, places we can’t drive, and places we can’t park and as  you would guess many complain…but not me. I gladly accept these inconveniences for having our utilities at our homes upgraded.

      Funny side story… I have a historic home that had the original 100 years old CLAY sewage pipe! We got that upgraded not long after buying as you imagine!

      On a larger scale I don’t know about our city, however for my state of Florida I found some official documentation, forgot where, on our power grid and learned ours is uniquely not tied to other states. While I used to think this was good in the event of a terrorist attack we might be isolated from the effects, however after what happened in TX I have been thinking about that more as a concern. I would be interested in HOW you learn about more about the age of our utilities.

      I have been fortunate enough to have never experienced any power outages due to excessive power drain, only due to hurricanes. We rarely have droughts either, in fact we have so much water it gets bottled (think Zypher, Dasani, ext). I really feel for those in drought areas right now.

    • 2


      Power has been off for days for some Michigan folks after the recent storms.

      If you check my other posts , you will find other links similar to this one. 

      Thanks for posting this Bill!

      • 1

        Your welcome Sir.

    • 3

      As an FYI for many of our community,  I recently read that in many parts of the United States the power distribution systems Towers (pylons) are actually more than DOUBLE the reccomended life expectancy. Apparently some of them collapsing when iced up during the New England blackout was caused because their structural strength has eroded over decades without maintenance.




    • 2

      In Oregon, conventional power generating methods are being shut down; nuclear (long gone), coal, dams are being breached. Unreliable wind and solar are not keeping up.  It’s estimated that by 2023, there is a 30% likelihood we can expect California style rolling blackouts.

      • 1

        Makes me wonder if the US will dust off the old War Plan Red from the 1920s where they planned to invade Canada and seize its hydroelectric plants ?? 🙂

      • 2

        Good morning Bill,

        I believe that plan was just camouflage to get the war mobilization programs here going.  Remember, the US had a large isolationist establishment.

        Recall the US environment. WWI era President Woodrow Wilson, a failed attorney, got the POTUS job somewhat easy. His dad was president of the Southern Presbyterians, a major national organization.

        The US is so linked to the UK, … recall FDR’s pre Lend Lease involved the bases for destroyers deal and some other related stuff. It was lessabout War Plan Red and more so the new’y prepared “Rainbow Plans”. Believe some portions drafted in UK.

        Today, the REAL US alliance is with the UK and it’s former Dominions. The Statute of Westminster giving “freedom” / sovereignity to Aussies and Kiwis and parts of Canada was the era’s fashion statement.

        Again, today the US is in cousin relationship with the English speaking places – but not necessarily the former colonies.

        Oil is not readily leaving the scene – just the changed sources.  Easy to life Saudi sweet creude is more expensive than Fort McMurrary, Alberta, Canada when military costs are not needed to get stuff.

        Glance at the oil up in the Beaufort Sea. Rest assured the environmentalists “won” because the USG allowed this to happen for domestic US political reasons. Prudhoe is already built re a rudimentary infrastructure. I can bring my maps and charts to a get-together of TP.com folks interested in this.  We can meet at a nice park in neighbor Canada. Northern Yukon National Park would be ideal meeting place.  We can just place 2 picnic tables together, have some cornbread and hushpuppies, … I met someone who visited this park.  He was with Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

        Must not neglect the Northwest Passage. The great fortunes of the US and UK will be protected to the max.

        The UK’s Lloyd’s of London, in 1906 and a couple of years after, saved the US when the San Francisco earth quake hit.  Lloyd’s paid premiums to policy holders at full amounts.  The US companies did not.

        The relationship is strong and growing.

        On list of places to visit – won’t get there during this stay on planet – is Canadian Forces Station Remote up in the chilly Atlantic side of Canada. 

        I’ll close this AM rambling by mentioning the best, so far, military cement of the real alliance. Just manufacture some more of those Aussie military garrison hats with one side officially folded up, and it’s closer than a cousin relationship. This is the BIG and real alliance cement I’m hearing about.


      • 2

        Sorry I’m bumping an old discussion, but I just don’t have much time to be online this time of year. I doubt I’m the only one with experience with wind and solar in this community. I’ll start by mentioning my past comments that the electric grid is badly in need of modernization. Wind and solar are among the lowest cost per KWH to build these days, which is why you see utilities trying to control this space and retire decades old ,less clean generation. Solar -wind is also great for use on the distribution grid. we’re just not doing much of it yet (those pesky utilities don’t like it much)

        As more and more renewables get added, Old base load generation like nuclear and coal is unable to rapidly ramp up and down to match the variability with wind and solar. What is able to balance out the wind -solar variables is natural gas peaker plants. Think “load following”, not “baseload”. Many places with existing gas pipelines could have small peaker plants installed (a more distributed and able to “island” grid). It’s been a while since I checked, but one of the main midwest grid regulatory associations has an abundance of excess natural gas plants online already, that are mainly used to help provide power during peak demand. This is why a certain midwest utility has built an enornmous amount of wind energy.

        So, we’re still further centralizing the grid…bad for reliability IMO.

        Splitting the grid into many smaller grids  and   using load following natural gas to balance wind and solar… even small biogas and biomass plants to help provide load following abilities.

        You can guess who doesn’t want to see that.  Incumbent monopoly utilities….

        I don’t see an improvement happening in this space any time soon, which is why I continually suggest generating your own electricity. Maybe a well, ,etc. Someone probably mentioned that in the selecting a home thread, which I haven’t read yet.

      • 2

        Good morning Iowa Guy,

        The electric grid is “only” the manifestation of the problem.

        The real problem is the public sector arrangements allowing for companies to provide power.

        Texas is a prime example. 

        It’s less about electric costs to business customers and private citizen customers than shareowners equity positions.  So far they are protected to the max. Dominion Enegy, Duke, … good examples.

        It’s not about grid arrangement but rather public policy allowing for migrations with subsidized costs. No longer are some famous cities large population centers.  Some of the exurbs have large populations now.

        Note, for example, a Federal Reserve regional Bank was established in Dallas, Texas but now the state’s largest population is Houston – 4th largest city in US.  This banking arrangement parallels the electricity matter.

        I personally like windmill created electricity and love tidal basin generated electricity. Development costs are substantial concurrent with protecting jobs in old power industries. Even retired coal miners are getting government support checks.

        It’s good to be electricity self-sufficent but will still (indirectly) be paying more than economic costs. The public utilities have the indirect arrangements in place.

      • 1

        So monopolies bad?

        If you haven’t already, research the rural utilities service part of usda for further frustrations.

        IMO, current electric and grid monopolies are developing those entities to maximize their”guaranteed  return on investment”, not what makes sense for the future. We’re dealing with a century old grid and utility model that increasing doesn’t make sense when nearly anyone can generate their own electricity these days. 

      • 1

        Here in the UK the government and utility companies are adapting the national grid to be SMART and incorporating  LOCAL grids as well, this allows to renewables and feed ins from consumers whose wind or PV is over generating.

      • 2

        The feed in policy in the UK is great. Wish we had that in the states.