Detroit Power Failure Raises Alarms Across the Country

Detroit fire fighters and EMS responded to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to rescue people from elevators and assist others down the stairs after a massive power outage hit downtown Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The outage closed several government buildings, including some courthouses, and left intersections without working traffic lights. (Diane Weiss/AP Photo)
Detroit fire fighters and EMS responded to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to rescue people from elevators and assist others down the stairs after a massive power outage hit downtown Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The outage closed several government buildings, including some courthouses, and left intersections without working traffic lights. (Diane Weiss/AP Photo)
Detroit fire fighters and EMS responded to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to rescue people from elevators and assist others down the stairs after a massive power outage hit downtown Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The outage closed several government buildings, including some courthouses, and left intersections without working traffic lights. (Diane Weiss/AP Photo)

 

(USA Today) – The power failure that plunged Detroit’s schools, fire stations, traffic signals and public buildings into darkness Tuesday reflects a larger problem of aging electrical infrastructure around the country that has worried experts for years.

The chaos of unexpected power loss is all too familiar for people who work in downtown Detroit. Its aging municipal system was responsible for major power failures that caused blackouts in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

But the problem is not isolated to one city. A series of federal and private studies raise alarm bells about the power distribution system nationally, saying it is plagued by aging equipment with high failure rates, obsolete system structures and outdated engineering.

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the nation’s power infrastructure a grade of D+, saying some elements of the interconnected transmission and distribution systems, including 400,000 miles of electric lines, date to the 1880s and much to World War II era.

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