Money Minute: Nation's Power Grid at Risk; Microsoft to 'Unsupport' XP


Saboteurs could knock out the electric grid from coast to coast.

This sounds like a movie plot, but it could be real. The Wall Street Journal reports a government analysis finds that if terrorists disabled just nine key electric transmission substations on a very hot summer day, it could force the country's entire power network to collapse. And if that happened it wouldn't be a quick fix. It could take weeks, even months, to restore power. And most of the nation's 55,000 substations aren't well protected.

Compounding the problem, Microsoft (MSFT) will soon stop supporting its 13-year old Windows XP system, which is widely used by utility companies. Without that support, their computer networks could become vulnerable to hackers.

On a more cheerful note, J.C. Penney (JCP) relaunches its home goods department. It promises to offer affordable, no-frills brands -- a move considered critical to the company's turnaround effort.

The Obama Administration says health insurance premiums are likely to continue rising next year.
But Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the pace of increase will be lower than we've seen in the past few years, and significantly lower than it was before Obamacare was passed in 2010.

Here on Wall Street Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 11 points, but the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 16 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) edged slightly higher.

Google (GOOG) offers super-high speed Internet connections in Kansas City and Austin, Texas, with plans to expand to more than 30 other cities. Now it has competition. Bright House Networks is building a similar fiber connected network in Tampa, Fla. Some people could have access to it by this summer. The one-gigabyte speed is about double what the fastest cable network can provide.

Finally, a little math quiz for you. How can the S&P 500 have 501 stocks? Well, Google plans to split into two different classes of stock and both will be included in the closely watched index, giving it 501 stocks -- but still only 500 companies.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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AOL Huffpost is way out of line trying to funnel everyone into FaceBook. Only idiots post on that thing. It is time to find a better home page.

March 28 2014 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, the fact is that "if" the Utility Companies would develop an intelligent meter; as I tried to do in 1984, when CMOS technology was coming into view; then the Power Grid would be controlled in a more positive fashion. Also, in the case of a 'Brown Out' the intelligent meter would have turned off all the appliances, T.V.'s, Radios, Electrical Appliances, etc., and allowed a more prudent return of power, thereby eliminating another crash of the Grid due to too many households with everything being left turned on... This is one of a hunderd benefits of Bidirectional Communication from the household to the utility company...

March 13 2014 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good to hear JCPenny is getting back to "normal" . It's almost as if the Ron Johnson era is going the way of the Donna Reed season of Dallas. The folks who take the empty rack and chaos photo spreads that supposedly show the deecline of JCPenny and Sears should go to Walmart sometime.

March 13 2014 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Next time you're in DC go to the Spy Museum and linger in the final section regarding the worldwide collapse of the power grid. Scary stuff.

March 13 2014 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'd just hire Grey Davis to put price controls on everything and get Enron to handle the situation. Problem solved........:)

March 13 2014 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If 29.3 percent of wimndows customers use XP, what is the reason for them to quit supporting it?

March 13 2014 at 2:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to larry's comment

Because they want to sell you a new OS for all those 'smartphone" aps...

March 13 2014 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well....if the bad guys didn't know they could so easily mess with America's power grid to wipe us out.....they DO now! What kind of nmbskulls thought it would be a good idea to make this public information?

March 13 2014 at 2:14 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

I've never had one minute of problems with XP. Got the security notices and now I am going to be forced to upgrade to 8.1 (if my hardware will manage it) or Windows 7 which is flaky on my work computer OR by a new PC and hope all my files and programs (will have to upgrade Office, I think) will run on it. Feel like I'm getting screwed here... Sometimes it is ok to leave well enough alone.

March 13 2014 at 1:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment

just an fyi: Dell told me i could buy a computer with windows 7 on it and for $10 more buy the software for windows 8 so that whenever i am ready i can go to windows 8. I wanted the windows 7- horror stories from people with 8.

March 13 2014 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The country's infrastructure is getting old. To maintain it is out of date. Me thinks we are going to learn how to build fires to cook our food (if you r lucky to have a fireplace) Clean it up and get it ready folks.. Start buying up candles and matches. Get all the wood *for the fireplace, you can store. Stockpile long lasting canned goods.. lol on and on and on. Oh yes, buy up batteries too.
Just tell the whole world our countrys power grids are old, and sit back and watch it happen. Wake up America, our country needs fixing. Time to pay the piper. Now, am I a bundle of fun?

March 13 2014 at 1:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to LAURA's comment

here's the problem- EVERYTHING RUNS ON ELECTRIC. banks, grocery stores, gas stations- everything. there would be no money, no food purchasing, no gas- no hospitals- nothing. we are screwed!!!

March 13 2014 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

None of these outsourcers really cares as long as the middle class isn't getting any of that money the 1% will be the richest in the world.

March 13 2014 at 1:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Iselin007's comment

you don't realize the dims are the #1 enemy of the poor & middle class do you??? wow

March 13 2014 at 2:31 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply