Disclaimer: First off I want to say that if this topic has been discussed at length I apologize for opening another. Also I am leaving out the names of the companies mentioned below just to cover myself.
If you are like me and have tried to talk to people about the aspects of being prepared you find yourself meeting with a great deal of resistance. I have gotten every response from, “I have always gotten by” to “those things really don't happen, someone will always be there to take care of us,” and to be honest for quite some time I fell somewhere in between. That was until I had the chance to see, first hand, the state of our country's power grid. This for the most part is what started me down the road of prepping.
A couple years ago I had the chance to go to work for a utilities inspection company that does business all over the US. I was a foreman with a crew with responsibilities such as inspections of power lines, poles, substations and storm damage assessment, as well as other things associated with the power industry. During my time with them I worked in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Michigan. One thing that remained constant no matter where I worked was the condition of their power distribution system was frightening.
A few examples of things I witnessed are, one company has a sort of “don't fix it till it hits the ground” policy. During my time with them I saw poles set in the 1920's supporting lines with 6+ inch trees growing through the lines. In more than one occasion I saw the lines arcing through the trees during rain. These lines would traverse miles and miles of line feeding power to communities all over. For another company one of my crew members kicked a pole and his foot went completely through the pole. We found this to be the case with hundred of poles. In downtown Detroit I found poles set from 1912 to 1925 carrying lines feeding the city with no more than a ½ inch of shell to the pole. In fact when our pole restoration crews came in to repair the poles when they would wrap the metal bands around the poles they would literally break completely in half.
Now if this was the case with a few scattered poles, or even a few hundred, my thoughts would be so what. However, this was much more than several hundred poles, a few hundred bad lines and systems set from the 20's to the 70's delivering the power needs of 2012.
I know this was long, but I hope it shows one possible, and in my opinion probable issue that we could see in our lifetime.