March 16, 2017, - 6:39 pm

Almost a Week Without Power in Detroit: When Your Utility is a Monopoly w No Competition

By Debbie Schlussel


Monopolies, Like DTE Energy, Suck & Treat Customers Like Crap

On this site and elsewhere, I’ve always preached the virtues of competition. I oppose monopolies, whether government-sanctioned or naturally occurring in the free market. And I learned first-hand how right I was, last week and into this one, when I lost electric power and heat (and hot water) for nearly a week after a Detroit-area windstorm. DTE Energy (formerly Deroit Edison) is a crappy company that is slow to repair things and simply doesn’t prepare for disasters because the company has no competition.



I was sick as a dog Monday and Tuesday. I’m still sick. I got sick because I was very run down after several days of no electric power–from Wednesday until Sunday evening. There are still thousands in the Detroit area who still have no power after more than a week because of DTE.

On Wednesday of last week, Detroit had tropical-storm level gusts of wind–40 to 50 miles per hour. As a result some electric poles went down and about 800,000 people–a third of Metro Detroit electric customers–power. I was one of those people. After repeated false promises about when power would be restored–and repeated “head-fake” phone calls and voice-mails congratulating me on my restored power that, in fact, was NOT restored, I finally got my power back. But this was after several days of taking showers at the gym, going to the (very stuffy and humid) library and freeloaded at Starbucks (I can’t shop at a place that employs Muslim illegal aliens) to juice up my laptop and cell phone, and eating out. It’s not a healthy life. You feel rudderless and like a nomad. At least I did.

The first two nights, I looked at it like an adventure. I slept without heat in the cold Michigan winter, but it wasn’t so bad. The first night, it was in the high 30s, and the second night, it was in the high 20s. I slept in thermals, a sweatshirt, and wool socks, and it was very comfortable both nights. I used my cell phone flashlight to see around, and I watched movies on my laptop until the battery ran out. Several generous friends invited me to stay with them, but I’m a tough person and try to be up to challenges like this, even though most of my neighbors left my apartment building for hotel rooms and friends’ and relatives’ homes. Also, I like sleeping in my own bed, as most people do. I told people I ran into, “Well, my Holocaust survivor grandfather went through a lot worse, so this is nothing.” That was my attitude . . . for a while.

But then came Friday night and the Jewish Sabbath. And it was awful. Almost nobody was left in my building, that night. I walked to and from my friends’ home for the Sabbath meal, and it was just wicked cold–in the teens that night. I ended up sleeping with the aforementioned thermals and sweatshirt, as well as a wool sweater, a shearling sheepskin coat, and a goose down comforter. No dice. I was so cold, it was painful. The next day, I again walked to and from my friends’ home for the Sabbath lunch, and they suggested I stay for the afternoon. But I like to read the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, and I insisted on going home. The afternoon was a killer, even worse than the night, and it was painful to move or get up to go to the bathroom. I just couldn’t take it anymore. That night, I stayed with my very nice friends who were so welcoming. But it was too late. I was coming down with a really, really bad cold.

I should note that on Friday Night, I saw an Xfinity truck installing generators and, I think, transformers for its customers at my apartment complex. I saw Xfinity trucks everywhere. Saturday afternoon, I noted that there were three Xfinity generators around my apartment complex. Xfinity/Comcast has competition. Customers can leave the company and go elsewhere, and they do what it takes (sort of) to keep those customers. (Yes, I know Comcast has its problems, but DTE is even worse, apparently.) We can’t leave DTE Energy. They know we have nowhere else to go if we want electric power, and they treat us accordingly. They’ve never prepared for outages. And as a result, it always takes several days to restore power, when it’s much quicker elsewhere in the country where utilities and power companies must compete.

On Saturday Night, I checked my voicemail, and there were two messages from DTE Energy from that morning. “Congratulations, DTE will restore your power by 11:30 p.m. tonight,” went both messages. And guess what? 11:30 p.m. came and went. No power. Talk about over-promising and under-delivering. Several times that I called, the DTE Energy 800 number didn’t even know there was a power outage in my building. Since then, I’ve received daily messages from DTE, including this morning, that the company is still looking into my power problem and doesn’t know when it will be restored (it was already finally restored on Sunday Night).

This company isn’t competent because, without competition, it isn’t forced to be. They’ve never staffed up for emergencies, and as a result they have to bring in others from other states. What happens when there are disasters in other states, and they’re needed there? I said something like this to two of my minority neighbors in my building, but they vehemently defended the company. They spent money to stay at a hotel (and hotels jacked up the prices). Yet, they still defended this crap–the party line of a government-protected monopoly. Typical of the bread-and-circuses masses, they believe what they’re told in the media, and told me “how hard” DTE was working to restore our power. Really? How hard? How did they know that? Easy: because DTE Energy told them so. So gullible. (The DTE CEO was on TV claiming he was without power and wouldn’t give his own home priority. But, as a friend pointed out, he probably had a generator.)

Like I said, I got so run down and sick from the situation that I got very sick and so I was taken out of commission for an additional two days because of the whole experience.

Yes, I know we live in a spoiled country, when many people around the world don’t regularly have electric power and hot water, if ever. And I know I sound more than a little bit whiny. But we’ve become accustomed to electric power and heat, and it’s not like I have a fireplace or coal oven like in the olden days when people slept next to those to stay warm. I went into this with the best attitude ever–treating it like a test and an exciting adventure. But it went on too long, and DTE spoiled it by lying, not living up to expectations, and acting like the protected monopoly it is, taking me and many others for granted. Many–as I’ve noted–who still do not have power, more than a week later.

I was lucky to have a lot of friends who invited me to stay over, and took two of them up on the offer on that last night, when I was starting to get sick and just couldn’t take it anymore. But many people don’t have that, and they can’t afford the hotels that raised prices due to demand. What did they do, waiting for the DTE monopoly to do its job?

So, that’s where I’ve been the last week or so. And why I was gone.

It’s an experience I don’t want to repeat.

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48 Responses

Other aspects to the lack of competition; they almost certainly have deals with the politicians who presumably regulate them. Contribute to their campaigns, and as a result escape oversight.

Part of escaping oversight almost certainly means that the utility company cuts corners on maintenance, which almost certainly contributes to the massive numbers without power.

Yes, in spite of more and more information being available because of the internet, people are more and more gullible. (although maybe a little less than before, since Trump carried Michigan).

Little Al on March 16, 2017 at 7:32 pm

And not to mention the deals that DTE Energy has probably worked out with politician/regulators to avoid or minimize paying consumers for food & other loss due to the company’s ineptitude.

Little Al on March 16, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Hope you’re feeling a lot better.

neils60 on March 16, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Damn what shtty week. Who runs that city. Fire them

MrBigBrain on March 16, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Miss Schlussel:

Please consider purchasing a good sleeping bag, preferably a down-filled mummy bag, with a temperature rating of well below zero.

In a down-filled sleeping bag, you’re supposed to sleep nude (I hope you aren’t offended by that) because your body heat is what keeps you warm, and clothing interferes with that.

Also, if you don’t already do so, keep a stockpile of prepared canned foods (preferably ones with a pull tab opener), bottled water, disinfectant hand wipes, medications, bandages, batteries, extra flashlights (all sizes), candles (I prefer the tall ones that come in drinking glasses – they burn for a long time, and aren’t a fire hazard), toilet paper, and garbage bags (for disposing of human waste).

In case of emergency evacuation during adverse conditions (riots, natural disasters, et cetera), you should have a backpack containing essential supplies for a week, and include with it a folding shovel, hatchet or machete, knife, poncho, heavy duty work gloves, flashlight, canteens, water purification drinking straw, and portable radio.

Keep it in your vehicle and always have the vehicle’s gas tank topped off.

Carry a small mirror for looking around corners without revealing yourself.

I’m guessing you already have a good pair of boots, and I know you are armed, because you told us about it some time ago.

Do you have a dog?

That’s your best alarm system.

All you want in a dog is a normal, friendly, happy pup, who’ll bark at strangers (or anyone), and allow you to handle the situation.

A vicious attack dog will get you sued, and maybe even prosecuted.

I know you have a pistol, but your best weapon for home defense (recommended by police) is a short-barreled twelve gauge pump shotgun.

That’s because you probably would never have to pull the trigger, as every criminal recognizes the distinct sound of chambering a shotgun shell, and will immediately flee in terror.

If a criminal does break into your quarters while you are there, don’t go looking to confront him, but barricade yourself in a room with your cell phone connected to 911, forcing the criminal to come looking for you, and that’s what the pump shotgun is for.

John Robert Mallernee on March 16, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Beat me to the punch….. Absolutely agree, especially with the 12-gauge versus the pistol. (shortest legal barrel available — tho considering Debbie’s physical size a 10-gauge might also be acceptable as it appear she lives in an apartment complex)

    ra2216 on March 19, 2017 at 12:20 am

    Dear Mr. Mallernee:

    All excellent advice.

    Miranda Rose Smith on March 28, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Thanks for the tips, caveman. Do you live out in the woods somewhere?

    Simon on March 31, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Debbie, sorry to hear about everything you went through: hope you are better now.

About the monopolies, from what I understand, as far as power companies go, every city has a monopoly. In Charlotte, I didn’t have an alternative to Duke Energy. In Atlanta, I didn’t have an alternative to Georgia Power. In Santa Clara, it was Santa Clara Electric. And so on. I’d be interested to hear of any city in the US where one can shop for power companies the way one can choose b/w AT&T, Verizon, Sprint & T-Mo.

One thing from your account – you still read printed WSJ’s? Can’t remember when I last read any printed papers, since everything is available online. Coffees – I just have the instant ones I can prepare at home, or if I have to shop for it, it’s usually at Dunkin Donuts.

One tip about the cold – usually, wearing socks keeps you from shivering or catching a cold. Thermals are good too, but the socks are what would have kept you comfortable.

Infidel on March 16, 2017 at 11:17 pm

The other thing I forgot to add – Xfinity/Comcast – every broadband provide seems to have localized monopolies. Like in every place I lived, only one provider was available.

In Charlotte, I had Time Warner Cable – now part of Charter. In Atlanta, I had Charter. Here near DC, I have Xfinity. In no place did I pick any of these (although I really liked the first 2): that was automatically decided by who was available at the place I picked to live.

So while it seems like we have a choice of providers, we only do when we expand it to include things like DSL or POTS: for cable providers, it seems to be just whoever happens to be available at one’s home

Infidel on March 16, 2017 at 11:21 pm

A small kerosene heater is essential up north. Also several gallons of water…get some new ones every year

tommy helms on March 17, 2017 at 12:47 am

Ummmmmmm, . . .

Debbie, really sorry to hear of this. As you young folks say, been there, done that. Many times, grew up in the ghetto for quite a few of my younger years, no heat, no hot water, mice, roaches, fever, sickly, Welfare, . . . etc. Same with some of my adult years, too.

As you know, and others have said, please take care of yourself and God bless you. As one of the chief narrators of the demise of “this once great republic,” and a purveyor of unvarnished truth, we need you. I admire you, I love you, take care of yourself, always, do what you have to.

Didn’t know you had a gun. Good for you. I already know you can take a man’s heart out and show it to him before he dies. I heerd tell when Ah wuz a young un that thars always ’bout tree, fo’ peepuhl inna worl’ that kin do dat in ever’ genuhrayshun.

Oh!!! . . .

one more thing . . .

as you already know ad nausaeum, proper sleep and nutrition.

Life is beginning to get in the way of reading and participation again. Take care, and God bless you always. America needs you.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on March 17, 2017 at 1:40 am

“Yes, I know we live in a spoiled country, when many people around the world don’t regularly have electric power and hot water, if ever. And I know I sound more than a little bit whiny.”

No Debbie, you are being a little too hard on yourself. I live in India, and even in Indian Metro Cities (Mumbai, Bangalore, Calcutta etc) we get 24*7 power supply!!! In case of heavy storms and rain, power comes back with MAXIMUM 24 hrs (generally within 12 hours). So there’s absolutely no excuse for an American living in a major city to go through this ordeal. Your “whining” is not unreasonable.

To be honest, even in India people know about the dire reputation of Detroit. Am sure that the situation in “proper” American cities is much better.

Kushal on March 17, 2017 at 7:24 am

Debbie I’m so sorry about you having to endure what you went through. I was wondering what was going on but I chalked it up as you doing your job as a lawyer. I know what it is to be without power for an extended period of time and dealing with a price gouging suckwad monopolistic power company. You see growing up in WVA we got bad winters and one time I remember that when I was 9 our furnace gave out and we really were in a pickle. My mom had to go next door to use the neighbors phone because we didn’t have one. Needless to say after nearly 2 weeks they came and fixed the heat and all was well. None of my brothers and I with my mom got sick. It also helped that school was out during that time. Experiences like that gave me an inner toughness that you seem to have in spades. Now dealing with a suckwad power company. I had the displeasure of dealing with the city power company where I lived. This place not only charged high rates but their service was deplorable. Their customer service reps always sounded like they had and attitude like why are you calling me. Well I had enough and moved away so that I could be under a different company. The people I deal with now are top notch but I’ve still basically done what the good gentleman Mr. Mallernee wrote. Have all of the essentials handy at home and in your vehicle. If you live alone and this goes double for you women(sorry this is not me being a sexist pig because I really do care) get a big dog, a gun or learn self defense. Or if you’re feeling froggy do all three. Oh and also get yourself a good generator. The really good ones cost mucho buckeros but it’s worth it. Debbie I do hope that you feel better. Like I said I know that you’re one tough cookie but sometimes even we that have upbeat attitudes have to say what the heck. We need you at full strength because our way of life is constantly under assault from the embolden leftist snowflakes.

Ken B on March 17, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Detroit is a leftist paradise.

Hillel on March 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Miss Schlussel:

I don’t think you can use a generator in your apartment, lest you be killed by carbon monoxide, as so many others have tragically learned too late.

If you lived in a house or a mobile home, then a generator would be practical, but only as long as it was kept outdoors when operating.

I just got through watching the 2016 movie, “SHUT IN”, starring Naomi Watts.

I recommend watching the movie, and as you watch it, ask yourself what mistakes are being made in a severe winter storm, and what would you do differently to prepare yourself for survival under those conditions.

Likewise, the 2004 movie, “THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW”, starring Dennis Quaid, might offer some similar thoughts on mistakes and possible corrections for surviving winter storms.

I’m sorry you’re sick, and I hope you’re starting to feel better, knowing that many, MANY people really care about your welfare.

May the blessings of Heaven descend upon you.

John Robert Mallernee on March 17, 2017 at 5:58 pm

I’ve lived all over the U.S and I’ve never had a utility company choice. You get what serves your area. I wish there was competition.

Marianne on March 17, 2017 at 8:34 pm

May I suggest this as a backup for future power failures?

Generac Guardian 16000-Watt

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Generac-Guardian-16000-Watt-Lp-16000-Watt-Ng-Standby-Generator-with-Automatic-Transfer-Switch/1000039481

Ebayer on March 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm

You truly were in a horrible situation. Also, the people who this hurt the most were the “Poor”. They do not even have the option of escaping to other places and eating out. The storm that you mentioned was not that exceptional in strength or ferocity, and yet DTE feel apart in the face of it. This is an example of what happens under monopolies, as you noted. There are no incentives to perform well, so it doesn’t happen. Finally, better off residents of third world countries often have power generators, due to frequent brownouts and blackouts. You live in Botswana.

worry on March 19, 2017 at 2:49 pm

I anoint Spicer The SpinGod. His job is rough. Give him a raise Donald.

MrBigBrain on March 19, 2017 at 5:50 pm

First, I love you, Debbie, and I do appreciate your hard work and dedication to getting the truth out about Islam, Muslims and the stupid ignorant left. So don’t take this the wrong way, okay? When power lines are down there is no power flow. Period. And with 4000 lines down in the DTE area alone, you’re lucky you were without power for only a week! It had nothing to do with the lack of competition.

Red Randy on March 19, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Deb:

If you want power, get a generator. There are scarce human resources to restore power; monopoly or not.

I’m not sure you have been paying attention to things I’ve been saying here (and elsewhere) for many years. Let me list some bullet points.

* 50% of all Utility linemen will be eligible for retirement in 5 years.

* Same holds true of the power systems engineering staff

* Most, if not all of Detroit Edison’s major customers have declared bankruptcy. By IOU standards, DTE has taken more than its share of lumps.

* Michigan is on a peninsula. There are only two ways to transport power into Michigan.

* Thanks to Bush Administration EPA regulations numerous coal fired plants have closed in Michigan. (O’Bama merely let them go into effect. The Bush Administration wrote them!).

* Utility “deregulation” during the 1990’s caused job turmoil resulting in a whole generation of electric utility workers being lost to the information technology boom.

* The advent of electric-powered cars holds the potential for crashing the grid; even on a local, neighborhood basis.

If you were an Electrical Engineering student in College from 1988 to 2002, you had a choice between job turmoil and lower salaries in the Electrical Power biz, verses top dollar from IT companies falling all over each other, offering more money and benefits. There is a whole lost generation of electrical power line workers and engineers. The damage from de-regulation is already done. Add the Bush/O’Bama tag team of regulations and “stimulus spending” and the shortage of qualified people is even worse. No economic system, monopoly or otherwise can fix this. Get a generator. Get a generator inlet and generator panel for your home. You will use it.

Hopefully, you know my credentials and recognize that I have a lot of knowledge and experience in this area. (As I say often: “The word ‘expert’ is a license to violate your common sense.”) We’re screwed! Monopoly or otherwise, we’re screwed.

If you ever bought a firearm (or two) to protect yourself, you can afford a generator to run your furnace fan, refrigerator, a few lights and your internet/wi-fi. That’s self-protection too! You will likely need standby power for your home long before you need a firearm. Personal responsibility! Don’t look for the government to solve your problem. I learned that from you. Now it’s time for you to put it in practice.

Just so you know, unless you travel a lot, there’s no reason for a fully permanent, automatic gas-fired generator. $800.00 to a local electrician and $600.00 for a 5500W (steady state; not “peak”) generator will keep you in fine creature comfort during a prolonged power outage (as long as you have gasoline or a nearby station that can still pump gasoline). If you can’t live without air conditioning, be prepared to pay the premium. Otherwise, a basic set-up isn’t too expensive. I promise! You’ll use it.

I wasn’t here in Michigan a year before the need for a standby generator became readily apparent. The MISO 5-year forecast is very ominous for Michigan. We could face a prolonged state-wide blackout in the next 5 years. Your ordeal is only the beginning.

If you’re interested in details on proper home generator set-up, you know where to find me.

Regards,

There is NO Santa Claus (aka TINSC)

There is NO Santa Claus on March 19, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Agree as I agreed earlier with another poster. I hope Deb pays heed to your and previous posters excellent advice.

    ra2216 on March 19, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Bear in mind that there can be some serious limitations when it comes to living in an apartment or condo.

      If I were in an apartment, I think I’d want a propane lantern for heat and light. Then I’d want two of those portable battery stations with jump starters, cigarette lighter power outlets, USB power outlets and of course, an inverter for 120V AC.

      I’d want two of them so I could charge on from my idling automobile. The other one could run my cable modem, wi-fi, mobile devices and laptop. (Laptops will deplete these, in 4-6 hours so be cognizant of that. Most “mobile devices” will be fine.)

      LED flashlights get a lot of bang for the buck now. For emergencies, lithium batteries are the only way to go. Don’t rely on your mobile phone’s flashlight! That is seriously lame for this application. Go with LED flashlights that work on AA batteries if at all possible.

      Also, keep rechargeable batteries and a charging case. D-Cells can now hold up to 10,000 mA-H. AA rechargeable batteries can now hold up to 2800 mA-H. That’s a lot of juice!

      A propane camping lantern is a very cheap way to provide critical bedroom heat during a late winter or early spring power outage. It will also provide plenty of light. Just be sure not to run it more than necessary. Do NOT fall asleep with it on. You’ll asphyxiate or die of CO poisoning.

      Another option for compact heat is one of those Mr. Heater propane heaters. They don’t double as light, but they have critical shut-off sensors for oxygen depletion. They’re more expensive than a propane lantern. For dedicated heat during a prolonged power outage, they’re better and safer than propane lanterns. They don’t double as a light source, but they are more efficient heaters and safer.

      For all-around utility, a basic Coleman Propane lantern is fine. They have a metal “hat” that dissipates heat. That is perfect for heating a bedroom where you want the lantern to warm the room. It will heat up a bedroom toasty warm in an hour. You can (and should) shut it off and the bedroom will likely stay warm for 4-6 hours or more while sleeping. It has a piezio-electric lighter so firing it back up is simple. It also throws a lot of light. A single propane cylinder will last for several days. A four-pack of propane cylinders can be stretched to provide 2 weeks of heating for a bedroom. Propane cylinders are easily stored in apartments. Just make sure you store them in a safe place.

      If you’re in an apartment and can’t run a generator, propane is the way to go. With a propane lantern for light and heat, plus two battery stations (one recharging in the car) an apartment dweller can rough it for a long time.

      Generators may still be an option depending on what floor you live on; whether you have a balcony or window to the ground level etc. That being said, generators can be a difficult option for apartment dwellers. A small 1200W “el-cheapo” two stroke generator can be very useful for re-charging battery operated stuff. Idling your car for an hour will use a lot of gasoline just for re-charging a battery station. I think Harbor Freight sells a cheap “rice box” (i.e. “made in China”) two stroke 800W camping generator for about $100.00. That’s a tough item to keep around an apartment; not to mention the fuel. But some apartments can accommodate storing something like that.

      PLEASE! Have the common sense not to store gasoline in an apartment building. I’d like to think Debbie’s readers don’t need me to say that, but reality (and some of the comments I see) say otherwise.

      For apartment dwellers, gasoline generators means siphoning fuel from your automobile. This is another mighty fine way to kill yourself in a slow and agonizing fashiion. Working around this hazard results in additional expenditure.

      Back to thesis number one: For apartment dwellers, propane cylinders and batteries are the way to go.

      My other comment was more directed at the horrific dilemma DTE faces on this recent event as well as events in othe future. The whole State of Michigan is vulnerable to long term electrical power outages.

      If you experienced anything like the discomfort Debbie wrote about in her above column, study up on how to cope. Now is the time to prepare. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

      Sincerely,

      There is NO Santa Claus (aka TINSC)

      There is NO Santa Claus on March 20, 2017 at 11:39 pm

        Propane in an apartment?!??!??!!! Seriously????!?!??!!! I would love to see the state by state laws on such a thing. I don’t think it’s allowed in NYC or NYS, because if it was, a whole lot of people wouldn’t be living in the no heat, no hot water conditions they do today, and have been since at least the time I was a little kid. And that’s a LONG time ago, LOL!!!

        Also, as a practical matter, there are too many pitfalls to having propane in an apartment, especially where children may be present. Yes, I know Debbie doesn’t have any.

        Propane???!?!?!? Apartment??!?!?!!! Please tell me where that is legal and practical. Just curious.

        Alfredo from Puerto Rico on March 23, 2017 at 11:42 am

          Alfredo, I’m hoping TINSC was referring to the small, one-time use, disposable type cyinders that are used for camp stoves and lanterns. These types are not refillable, have no valves, and are not prone to leaking. Similar to a CO2 cartridge in an air pistol, they are pierced when they are installed and should not be removed until they are depleted or they will spew propane.

          I understand your alarm. A 20 lb cylinder like the kind used for bbq’s should never be stored in a living quarters, a leak could easily be fatal.

          Richard on March 25, 2017 at 10:05 pm

          Alfredo:

          There are absolutely NO laws against storing non-refillable propane cylinders in an apartment. I think another reader tried to explain that I’m talking about disposable propane cylinders. These are the ones you use for Coleman camping lanterns, small hand torches, and such. They’re disposable and cannot be refilled. As such, they’re quite safe to store in an apartment. In addition, they don’t take up much space.

          Apartments do not afford enough room for much else. However, four of those disposable propane cylinders can keep a bedroom warm for a couple of weeks. Assuming you have hot water, you can even move your lantern or heater to the bathroom to take a shower.

          The only drawback is that during a prolonged outage, a room will only stay warm 4-6 hours after you turn your lantern off. You MUST turn it off if you are going to sleep. While it takes little time to warm up a room when you fire it back up, you’ll be either doing this while a little bit sleep-deprived or you’ll have to leave the comfort of your cozy warm blankets and freeze your butt off to light the heater/lantern. I’ve been there; done that. I usually opted for the latter.

          Sincerely,

          There is NO Santa Claus (aka TINSC)

          There is NO Santa Claus on April 3, 2017 at 12:00 am

    @ TINSC:

    There WAS a Santa Claus, because that’s me!

    But, unfortunately, due to my collapsing spine, I’ve been forced to retire, and so, I’ve shaved off my whiskers (which I had to anyway, since I’m a fugitive from justice), and traded in my sleigh for an electric powered mobility cart.

    As you know, Rudolph is now confined in total isolation at the Federal Administrative Maximum Security Prison in Florence, Colorado.

    I wonder what the wee children will do now?

    Anyway, since Miss Schlussel lives in an apartment building, I don’t see how she can safely operate a generator there without accidentally succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning.

    That’s also why a kerosene heater is not a practical idea.

    Not knowing what her apartment building looks like, I’m wondering if the owners and/or residents shouldn’t consider installing solar panels?

    Here in Utah, there are now solar panel farms set up in the desert, and distant residents can subscribe to their services.

    Does her apartment have access to a chimney, thus allowing her to have either a Franklin stove or a wood fireplace?

    But, if that were the case, she would need ready access to a reliable source of coal and/or wood.

    You are quite correct that all of us need to start preparing ourselves for unforeseen hard times that lie ahead.

    John Robert Mallernee on March 20, 2017 at 4:23 am

Problem is trees. Too many, and too big. Every “outage” I saw from 12 Mile to Detroit was caused by a tree collapsed on a power line. As Ronald Reagan once said:
“How many trees do we really need?”

bill craig on March 19, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Putting everything up on wooden poles (plenty of trees for supply) since the beginning, although a cheap fast way has turned out not to be the best way.

Areas where most power supply is buried seldom have severe widespread outages due to weather… Results in fewer really vulnerable locations to maintain.

ra2216 on March 21, 2017 at 5:11 am

Michigan is in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator footprint, which is a nice chunk of the US. The next megawatt needed in MISO’s footprint is generated based on where it is the least expensive. You are not being supplied by Detroit Edison alone. Additionally, 4000 downed power lines, as reported, would take a long time to repair.

Red Randy on March 21, 2017 at 9:54 am

Sorry, to hear you had that much trouble. If you have a balcony you can put a small generator on it. Some models run gas, propane or both. Sears sells a bunch of them. They are pretty quiet and relatively inexpensive.If you have a furnace in your apartment; you can run a cord to it to keep it running and have a few lights. If you do that remember to pull the breakers so you don’t fry the generator.

Doc Holiday on March 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm

I agree, DTE does not maintain their lines anymore. Unless they are forced to. They replaced maybe ten poles in a quarter mile stretch near my house. They also don’t trim the trees back like they used to do. Now, as for your hardship. Is this your first emergency situation? You have to use your phone as a flashlight? Really? Good that you don’t have little kids to take care of with no electric. Mine still had to go to school and do homework etc. They had to be fed. We used a small propane camp stove to heat up soup and make some eggs so we didn’t have to eat every meal out. Adversity builds character. Seems to me you caught something more than a cold, maybe a little “snowflake syndrome”.

MM: Me a snowflake? HUH? I toughed it out for everything but the last night and partial day of the outage, when all of my neighbors left. I don’t have kids, so what you are saying about me is stupid. If I had kids, I’d take care of them. Sounds to me like you are the snowflake, as your comment indicates you think you should get some sort of commendation for taking care of them, like you’re supposed to do. DS

Marty M. on March 22, 2017 at 6:11 am

Power flows like water, high voltage to low. All the power companies in the Eastern Interconnect share their power generation using the same transmission lines. In the mornings, Detroit Edison helps supply the east coast as it wakes up. As the day moves on flows move gradually to the west. I see it every day as I work in the control room at a Regional Transmission Organization. What happened in Michigan, the outage, was due to thousands of downed lines due to high winds, 4000 alone for DTE. Even if there were more competition, it would still have take as long as it did to restore them. The competition argument is wrong in this case, Ms. Schlussel, in my humble opinion.

Red Randy on March 23, 2017 at 8:58 am

Lol @ people wanting a medal for taking care of their kids. Chris Rock had a funny line about people that always say ” I take care of my kids” I don’t remember it all, so my Post is pointless and isn’t going anywhere.
I do see where the the senate voted for less internet protection. They’re hell bent on reversing anything O did and that is ignorance and spiteful foolishness. Who in the hell wants companies constantly selling your info, spying and tracing you constanlty. idk bout these repubs sometimes

MrBigBrain on March 23, 2017 at 9:25 pm

What the hell is Canada thinking? They just passed a blasphemy law in support of Islam. You can’t speak out against Islam or some madness. wtf. something about fighting Islamphobia but that word remains undefined.WTF

MrBigBrain on March 23, 2017 at 11:07 pm

So the Repubs failed, because they are obsessed with O. Trying to repeal 7yrs to the day and all that nonsense, lame. Just put together something cogent and sensible that America can get behind and we can move on, Obama is no longer president stop the infatuation and go forward. ENOUGH!!! You may want to erase his name from the annals of America, but it aint happenin. Go forward people. GO

MrBigBrain on March 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm

“So the Repubs failed, because they are obsessed with O.”

The repubs failed because they are spineless and impotent. They should have learned from the recent election what is possible when one unabashedly sticks to their own principles–instead they retreated back into their habitual cowardice, delinquency, and corruption.

As I see it, the whole lot of ’em are squandering our last decent opportunity to fix our nation. What a shame!

YCHtT on March 25, 2017 at 10:35 pm

That’s interesting, Richard, I’m not familiar with those type of propane tanks you mentioned. Still, in NYC and other areas, with burgeoning regulations in addition to those already in place, it’s hard to imagine that even such a seemingly innocuous device as that would be legal. But, I always stand ready to stand corrected, when it comes to things I don’t know much about. Thanks for the information.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on March 25, 2017 at 11:36 pm

Back to the issue at hand: ‘Infidel’ in one post here referred to the former Time Warner Cable which, now under Charter ownership and management, is “Spectrum” – or, as they should be more aptly called, “Rectum” (apologies for being a tad salty here). Where I live in NYC, they are the cable and Internet provider. This last Tuesday night into Wednesday afternoon, my Internet was down for about 16 hours. I called their number, and they claimed a “service interruption” (a flowery euphemism if ever I heard one). In all that time I thought about this article and the point that monopolies of any kind are NFG. They are so bad that NYS’s left-wing Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took a minute or so off from his crusade to get President Trump, to sue Spectrum over their across-the-board lousy service and Internet service that is so lethargic, they’re almost like either a three-toed sloth or Tim Conway’s “world’s oldest man” character from The Carol Burnett Show (whichever comes first).

Concerned Patriot on March 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Dear Debbie:

I really am sorry you had such a rough time. BUT, for the next time, let me give you some advice.

A) Buy a kerosene heater.
B) Buy a flashlight, so you don’t have to waste the energy in your cellphone battery by using it as a flashlight.
C) Keep spare batteries for your radio and your flashlight.
D) DON’T waste your laptop battery on movies.

I hope you’re feeling better. You’re lucky you have water. I remember the big blackout of 1977. Electric pumps carry the water to the upper floors of partment buildings and many families, including mine, were without water-in August.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, kosher Pesach.

Miranda Rose Smith

Miranda Rose Smith on March 28, 2017 at 5:49 am

Is wind and and solar and technological advancements making coal obsolete? Or is it just coal aversion? Maybe educate the coal miners and bring them up to current technology so they aren’t left behind? Is that a reasonable solution. Or so we continue to just bicker?

MrBigBrain on March 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Eric Clapton had a song called Propaine, right?

Or was it Bread Pudding?

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on March 30, 2017 at 2:00 am

wow, sorry Deb. You can always move down here to Sunny Phoenix. We’d love to have you.

papijones427 on April 5, 2017 at 9:26 pm

TINSC:

With regard to Propaine.

This is Alfredo.

This is Alfredo on drugs. (Well, Mary, as in The Association)

This is Alfredo sitting corrected.

Okay, I’ll stand and be corrected as well.

She don’t lie,
She don’t lie,
She don’t lie, . . . PROPAINE!!!

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on April 5, 2017 at 10:24 pm

Debbie, I am working on something that is time sensitive and would be a money maker for an investigative reporter. It is related to Russian interference in the election and American involvement. I am certain that our intelligence agencies are aware of a situation, but it has not been made public… not even theorized. I’ll try to find your email account on my computer later. We have emailed one another in the past but I cannot post under my usual name…

Veddy gute on April 11, 2017 at 12:30 pm

A great topic for a future post would be all the money DTE spends on TV and radio ads. They must be the largest Advertiser in southeast Michigan.. but where the hell does the money come from? Our pockets?

Veddy gute on April 11, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Don’t feel like the lone ranger tonto… We lost power downriver for 2 days and yes, it got cold that second night.

Patrick on April 24, 2017 at 3:52 am

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