The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Michigan Utilities—Not a Bug—Keep Customers in the Dark!

Jan 12, 2009

Over 400,000 homes and businesses in the Detroit area lost power in late December. Some people were without power for as many as five days.

The utility explained away their responsibility in the matter by blaming ... an insect. John Austerberry, a DTE Energy spokesperson, said, “About two-thirds of the outages are the result of trees coming in contact with the lines and grounding them out.... Because of the Emerald Ash Borer, every ash tree in the state is dead.”

Maybe the Ash Borer killed trees in Michigan, but the utility companies are supposed to maintain the electric lines, which includes keeping them clear of dead trees. And the state is supposed to deal with insect infestations.

The real problem is that both the state and the utility companies have cut back on staff. The utilities do not have enough staff to maintain the lines. They also do not hire enough people to restore power when outages occur.

It’s a backward system that puts many lives at risk, while there are plenty of people who could be put to work keeping the power grid in working order and trees healthy!