Planet Gore

Obama Goes Green and Detroit Goes Black

Since President Obama signed the stimulus bill in early 2009, Washington has spent over $100 billion of it “transforming” America to a green electric grid. In Michigan alone, hundreds of millions have been distributed to rich utilities for upgrades to “smart grid” systems that enable better power management to accommodate electric cars; to rich multinationals like Dow and LGChem to produce batteries; and to wind-energy projects run by rich institutions like Dow Corning, Michigan Aerospace, and the University of Michigan

And on Thursday, the city of Detroit — one of the nation’s largest and poorest cities — lost power.

Is there a better metaphor for the Obama administration’s utopian transformation of America than the Detroit power blackout of 2011?

Like Obama nationally, Michigan has ignored its biggest city’s power infrastructure and instead poured money into quixotic wind projects on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to feed the state’s Renewable Power Standard and the ideological demands of Washington.

“A wind turbine has over 8,000 individual parts and they all can be made right here in Michigan,” said Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow upon handing her state $1.9 million of wind pork back in July, 2009. “I am pleased these grants will support the important research efforts happening across our state as we continue to lead the way in developing clean energy technologies in the 21st century economy.”

Meanwhile, Detroit’s antiquated electricity infrastructure can’t even provide power through two 95-degree days before imploding. City officials said the blackout — which struck all of the city’s major buildings including city hall, museums, and the courts — was “caused by extreme power demand for air conditioning after two days of temperatures in the 90s.” Really? Just two days? And what happens when summer comes?

Vice President Biden told Time magazine in 2010 about stimulus brainstorming sessions with Obama “about an all-in push for a smarter electrical grid that would reduce blackouts, promote renewables and give families more control over their energy diet: ‘We said, “God, wouldn’t it be wonderful? Why don’t we invest $100 billion? Let’s just go build it!”’”

So how’s that working for you, Detroit?

The city’s antiquated electric lines from its 1927-vintage, natural gas-and-oil-fueled Mistersky power plant failed, plunging the city into darkness. But Green Obama doesn’t have time for these “20th century” sources of energy. He’s busy remaking the Rust Belt into the Green Belt — in the memorable words of his former green disciple in the governor’s office, Jennifer Granholm.

Why, you might ask, while we’re on the subject, does Detroit have its own utility at all? Because city unions refuse to give up this public-jobs bank and connect to the larger grid run by Michigan’s more efficient Detroit Edison utility (which produces power at less than half the cost per megawatt of Detroit’ Power and Lighting Department). Mr. Obama would be proud. Government, after all, is all about providing jobs, yes?

Obama could make a real difference in Detroit — not just in upgrading its power system (if you must spend federal money), but as a family-man model for a city with a crippling 80 percent illegitimacy rate. But Obama has barely visited here. He has bigger ideas to pursue.

How ironic that Detroit is a model for Democratic policy — welfare, living wage, high taxes, city-run services — yet the collective havoc these policies have wrought on this city are so embarrassing the Liberal-in-Chief barely acknowledges its existence.


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