John Oliver looked Sunday night at how vulnerable the US power system is as aging infrastructure meets the increased demand and extreme weather events caused by climate change.
In addition, there are unusual problems such as more than 600 power outages caused by squirrels and hundreds of others caused by birds, balloons, raccoons, snakes and slugs.
“Let me just say here: Kudos, slugs,” said Oliver. “From this entire list, I underestimated you.”
The country’s power system is not one network, but three of them: the Eastern Consolidation, the Western Consolidation, and the third in Texas.
“Basically, like Major League Baseball,” Oliver said. “There are two dominant groups in this, as well as the assholes in Texas who would rather set their own rules.”
All three networks share some common challenges, starting with the fact that much of the infrastructure is well beyond its expected lifespan.
“We have a power system built in the 20th century that is not adapted to meet the needs and stresses of the 21st,” he said.
Oliver said it is estimated that upgrading and upgrading a crumbling transmission system and preventing situations such as the Texas winter tragedy or California wildfires will cost $ 2.5 trillion over the next decade by some estimates. But an infrastructure bill passed by the House of Representatives last week allocated just $ 65 billion for the task.
Oliver ended with a flamboyant demonstration of how quickly something as seemingly innocent as balloons can turn off everyone’s electricity: