The Grid Shut-Down Drill
What isn't being made clear enough, apparently, is that this will be a table top exercise, meaning it's all a simulation. The grid itself will not actually be shut down. Aside from the fact it's a chilly time of year in much of North America, can you imagine the profits lost if big commerce and Wall Street were actually offline? Eeeek! We certainly can't have that! (Never mind about people without heat or light..)
The idea behind the exercise is to troubleshoot the cascading consequences of a massive grid failure, and the resulting inability of many people to access food and water, especially urban folks, and the resulting massive chaos, civil upheaval, etc. They also want to pinpoint specific areas of grid vulnerability to a cyber attack, or a massive solar eruption.
Unfortunately, it seems that some of the more unusual components needed for grid operation aren't even made in this country, which is a huge problem in terms of restoring power if the whole grid is down. Gee, thanks, Congress, for facilitating the off-shoring of most of our manufacturing! Talk about your unintended consequences.
Anyway, based on some of the sites I've looked at and the comments posted, it seems many people are unaware it will be a simulation. But some of the articles about the drill that have run in the media haven't been exactly clear, so I can understand the confusion.
Personally, I'm a little concerned about big "security" drills anyway. For some reason they always seem to coincide with actual mayhem. Like the air defense drills on 9/11/01. And the security drills in London that coincided with the subway bombings there. And the security drill supposedly taking place during the Boston Marathon.
So you'll understand when I say I might just be picking up some more solar lanterns and canned goods over the next month! Just in case the drill coincides with something else... ;)