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Detroit now resembling third-world nation as power grid fails and lights go out


Detroit

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(NaturalNews) During the 1950s and 1960s, the city of Detroit became the automobile manufacturing capital of the world. Growing to become America's fourth-largest city, it was a model of modernity and American production capacity.

Between 1910 and 1950, the PBS program "The Rundown" reports, "few cities grew faster, were wealthier, were more attractive to those seeking success than what became known as the Motor City."

Detroit population today less than half of 1950 census count

Peaking at about 1.8 million people in 1950, the city has since lost more than half of its population. Entire automobile factories have laid dormant and rotting for years; whole neighborhoods have been abandoned and are decaying. The city's finances are a shambles, and there are scarcely enough resources to keep basic services like fire, police and EMS operating.

To put Detroit's decline in perspective, PBS notes, today fewer than 20,000 of the city's roughly 714,000 people work in manufacturing.

The city's decline recently manifested itself again, this time in a recent failure of its aging power grid.

'Another reminder'

According to The Detroit News, officials hopes that a four-year, $200 million upgrade to the city's decrepit power grid will help avoid more system-wide shutdowns like one that occurred Dec. 3, resulting in forced evacuations, people being trapped in elevators and hospital rooms and public buildings being left in the dark.

The massive, widespread outage was yet "another reminder of how much work we still have to do to rebuild the city," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

The Detroit News further reported:

The city and DTE Energy are in the early stages of the project to update the city's electrical grid, which hasn't been modernized for decades. DTE is paying for the upgrades during an 18-month inspection of the system. Work began in July; when the transition is complete in about four years, DTE will run the system and the city will be out of the power business.

"Everybody is aware the system has not gotten the attention it needed over the past several decades because of the city's ongoing financial problems," Randi Berris, DTE Energy spokeswoman, told the paper's online edition. "One of the key reasons why this migration is happening is because DTE can provide the reliability and affordability to the customers that are on the (Public Lighting Department) system."

The outage was the result of a short series of events. Around 9:30 a.m., a major cable failed at the Mistersky Power Generation Plant on the city's riverfront. During the Public Lighting Department's bid to re-power customers through a different circuit, a breaker on that circuit failed around 10:30 a.m., which resulted in a loss of power to all customers who were on the city's power grid.

Traffic lights and office buildings in the city's center were affected, and that included fire stations and hospitals, the paper said. Some 900 "customer locations" and 740 traffic signals were affected, which snarled traffic, according to city officials. However, they added, the city did not lose its 911 dispatch service.

America's third-world mega-city

Power was out most of the day and was not fully restored until about 5:30 p.m. Officials said that such interruptions are bound to happen on such an old and overtaxed system.

"There's been so much neglected for so long," Duggan said. "We've got a lot to do."

When completed, the grid upgrade will feature new utility poles, substations, transformers and cables, like the one which failed at the former Mistersky plant.

"This situation is not going to slow down our efforts to ... restore the city," council President Brenda Jones told the paper.

About 10 years ago the Mistersky plant was being used to produce power for the city, according to Detroit's chief operating officer, Gary Brown. But he said the plant has not produced any power at all for at least the past eight or nine years. Currently, he said, the city purchases its power from the DTE Energy company; that power is routed into Detroit through the Mistersky plant.

The failure represents Detroit's further decline into a third-world city. Some are trying to transform the city into an economic center, much like New York City, to make up for its dramatic loss of manufacturing.

Sources:

http://www.detroitnews.com

http://www.pbs.org

http://www.dbusiness.com

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