The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Michigan’s Power Outage Disaster

Mar 20, 2017

The windstorm that hit last week knocked out power to about a third of all homes in Southeast Michigan. Many people were without power for several days up to a week – in the freezing cold.

The head of DTE Power blamed it all on the storm. Certainly there were strong sustained winds. But this storm didn’t have to knock out power to that many people and for that many days. That was all due to decisions made by companies like DTE.

In order to increase their profits, DTE and other energy companies have cut back on how many linesmen they have. There are so few regular workers that they had to bring in contractors from nearby states to do repairs.

Trees went untrimmed and the power lines deteriorated and were not replaced. All of this came crashing down under high winds. Power was shut down deliberately by DTE as grids overloaded or failed. As a result, people had pipes burst in their homes. Some people had to pay for motel rooms, if they were lucky enough to find one. Most everyone had food spoil in their refrigerators and freezers.

And then there was the cost in human health and safety that is harder to measure. What happens to the children, the sick and elderly when room temperatures drop to 40 degrees?

The storm that hit Michigan last week was a product of nature. But the tremendous disruption and suffering of the population was a product of decisions made by some bosses and politicians.