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In the world I am creating, a chunk of the USA, specifically in Northern Oregon, is teleported to another world. The teleported section has all infrastructure intact, including power generation in the form of hydroelectric dams and wind turbines, as well as water and sewage systems intact. The phone and radio towers within the region are undamaged.

Specifically, I am wondering if the electricity would still work, as it is normally connected to a larger grid system, and if cellphones would still work, as while they have the towers, there is presumably no data center to actually manage them. My knowledge on the cell phone part is incredibly rough, so an overview as to why they would or wouldn't work would be appreciated.

I would presume that a large portion of the internet wouldn't work, as while computers and phones would still be able to access it, they can't actually connect to any servers outside the teleported area. Is this assumption correct?

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  • $\begingroup$ I would imagine that the internet just won't work because core services that it relies on would be down. Without a Datacentre you will only have access to things on the computer. You might be able to get the computers all connected together, but your going to need a specialist to link all of them together. It would be a similar situation with phones because there is likely a check to make sure you are a paying customer which will likely fail. I'm not putting this as an answer because I don't know enough, but I believe your assumptions close to correct. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Mar 25 at 5:41
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    $\begingroup$ Electric power grids are designed to be able to be broken up in smaller pieces. Electric power is not a problem, if they still have their power stations. The plain old telephone system (POTS) will still work, for short-distance calls only. I have no idea whether in Oregon they still have a classical telephony system. Modern fancy cellular networks and the internet won't work until reconfigured; I hope they have some people with a very solid knowledge of the practicalities of IT&C. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 25 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ Some of the discussion in answers to How long can my small American city be without Internet access? may be of interest. I would also recommend splitting this question up into several; electrical, Internet, and phone are likely rather different (though there's probably more overlap between Internet and phone than there is between either of those and electricity, from a reliability/local-sustenance point of view) and thus may benefit from being treated separately. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Mar 25 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ Hydroelectric dams? So you are teletransporting a whole river basin together with mountains and the like? $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Mar 25 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ Unless it's a bloody big chunk of Oregon, the hydro will be useless - the watershed area will be too small to provide much flow. Unless you invoke Coincidence to provide for an existing large river(s) to match up perfectly with the new one and feed the dam(s). $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 25 at 12:17
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Electric power

This might present some issues depending on the layout of the grid. Although there might be sufficient power to supply the state in total the power lines might not be capable of delivering that power to where it is needed.

For instance there might be cases where power generated in neighbouring states fed cities in state and power stations in state fed cities out of state. Should these links be severed the remaining in state power lines might not be able to cope with distribution of power from in state power stations to in state cities.

This issue would be unlikely to remove all power but could easily create local blackouts, brown outs and require some areas to be rationed to prevent overload.

Other than distribution capacity there should be no other problem with running a separate piece of the National grid on its own. In fact that was how the power grid originally evolved.

The internet

The internet is designed to route around broken links so should be able to adapt to a reasonable extent, however there are some key infrastructure items that would be needed such as internet service providers, routers and DNS servers. I would be very surprised if there was none of this infrastructure in Northern Oregon. However as with power the location of these services and servers might not be optimal in the new world.

Out of state links and satellite links would not work which would cause problems in rural areas. I suggest that the internet would be unavailable in some areas and would be available in other areas but at a very reduced rate. These problems would be exacerbated by the power issues, a location that did have sufficient internet connection and infrastructure might not have any power or might suffer from frequent outages that disrupted the service.

Obviously there would be no connection between the teleported area and the rest of planet Earth so all internet data searches in the teleported area would be limited to the content of local servers in the teleported area.

Mobile phones

Similar situation to the internet as most traffic these days is effectively routed via the internet.

Overall

I would imagine there would be wide spread disruption although not total failure. Given time some of these issues could be overcome however lack of some basic facilities (steel, aluminium, transformer, power cable and other specialist equipment production) would greatly hamper efforts at restoration and initially cannibalisation of some facilities and infrastructure might be necessary in order to get other areas working. It would probably take decades to return to normality.

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I think electricity will be a problem, and it will be the major one.

Electricty:
A synchronized power grid requires a certain balance between supply and demand. It is unclear what the demand in the affected area would be, but I doubt, that the supply could keep up.
First, there is the hydroelectric power plants. The sources that feed their reservoirs would need to be teleported, too, otherwise the plants would become useless as soon as their reservoirs are depleted.
Second, wind energy is not reliable enough to serve as the sole producer to supply the base demand of the grid.
Both types of power stations cannot be used to satisfy peak demand, unless some of the hydroelectric plants are pumped storage plants, which in turn would make them unusable to cover base demand.

Nuclear power plants, if there are any, might work for quite some time. However, they rely on the availability of an external power feed in order to be operated safely, e.g. for emergency measures. Plus, with an unreliably peaking demand due to an unstable power grid and a lack of means to moderate these peaks, you're probably better off keeping nuclear reactors off the grid.

Then there is the issue with distribution. I assume that most, if not all, of the significant power stations of the area feed their output into a high-voltage transmission grid. According to this map, there seem to be some major nodes of the western transmission grid located in the area of northern Oregon. Still, it is quite likely that this grid will be disrupted and inoperational. Even if the teleported area still has enough power stations to meet the demand, their output will have no means of reaching the consumers.

There might still be areas with decentralized, small power grids, but their power stations would probably rely on rather unpredictable renewables, like wind and solar power or on fossil fuels, that might not be available indefinitely in the new environment.
Biomass plants could be a long term solution, but they require some sort of functioning agriculture/forestry and they are not feasible for large demands, e.g. the city of Portland.

Water/Sewers:
Without power, these services won't work either. Water pumps, sewer pumps, water treatment facilities; all will shut down in wide areas eventually, even if they can be kept running for a limited amount of time using generators.
They could be hooked up to wind/solar power plants, if regionally available, but these are not suitable to run core infrastructure reliably, so there will likely be disruptions in service. That bears the potential of a sanitary crisis, especially in bigger cities.

Communications:
Radio communications, in the form of radio transceivers like walkie talkies, would probably suffer the least, as long as the devices still can be powered. There's not much physical infrastructure needed. A few aerials at most.

Internet and mobile phone services will most certainly be unavailable or nigh unusable. They might technically be brought back online, albeit in a very reduced state, i.e. with an "internet" providing next to none of the well known services and a mobile network not capable of routing calls to any number outside the teleportation zone and with most of the apps and mobile services being broken, because they'd try to communicate with service endpoints and resources that are no longer reachable.
Bringing those minimal forms of modern communication online would require resources and electrical power. Both of which will be in high demand to keep running what is left of the critical infrastructure. With supply lines for spare parts and raw materials severed, not to mention a potential lack of suitable production facilities in the teleported area, I highly doubt that internet and mobile phone services will be publicly available even in the long term. In my opinion, Instagram and Twitter will be the least of a concern in such a scenario.

Other things:
Given the large scale power outage I expect to take place in such a scenario, there's also impact on food supply, medical services and law and order to be expected.
I think a decentralized society like ours would rather quickly deteriorate under such circumstances, and make room for small, centralized and self-sustained communities.

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    $\begingroup$ Northern Oregon - specifically the Columbia River - is a major hydroelectric (and these days, wind) power producer. Much of what it produces is shipped south to California &c via the Pacific DC intertie and other transmission lines. So yes, there are major transmission nodes there. Assuming you still have the water source (and have transported a bit of Washington, too) the grid would still work. The external lines would just drop off, and hydro plants would reduce output to meet demand. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 25 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf The premise is that northern Oregon is teleported. Columbia River rises in Canada. Another major tributary, Snake River rises in Wyoming. Granted, there's a lot of dams in the Willamette Basin, but at least half of them don't appear to be in what I'd still call northern Oregon. Given that a lot of tributaries to Columbia River are cut off by them premises of the OP, I'm not sure that the remaining power production can sustain major population areas like Portland and keep what's left of the internet and mobile network infrastructure running. But yeah, it might not be that bad. $\endgroup$ – shmee Mar 25 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, this was super helpful. I'll keep in mind not just the water for the dams, but also where it comes from. $\endgroup$ – Dawnfire Mar 26 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ @shmee: I know where the Columbia River comes from, and you're of course correct that you'd somehow need to maintain the upstream flow. My point was that the state line runs down the middle of the river, so if you teleported JUST part of Oregon, you'd wind up with a lot of half dams :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 26 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Well ... given that you end up with what's essentially Halfregon, with Halfbia River as northern border, a bunch of half dams seems just consequential :D Seriously though, I did not interpret the premise that literally. Your point is absolutely valid, as was your initial comment, that I replied to. I was not aware of the amount of power production in Oregon. My main argument might very well be invalid, depending on which area actually gets teleported. So, thanks for the lesson :) $\endgroup$ – shmee Mar 26 at 16:19

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