Today’s Incompetents Can’t Keep the Lights On

When I was a kid growing up in a Detroit suburb in the 1960s and 70s, the only time the lights went out was during a severe electrical storm where the tornadoes knocked out the power lines. Snow, even seven feet? Sleet? Freezing rain? Temperatures of 30 below zero, where parts on my father’s car froze? No problem. Detroit Edison with its Fermi nuke plant could handle it all.

Contrast that with Buffalo’s blizzard today. It’s being compared to the 1977 blizzard, which also hit Michigan. I remember it well. But this time, the lights are going out – and the electric heaters. Maybe that switch away from natural gas and heating oil to “clean” electricity isn’t the best idea. reports Monday evening: “More than 12,000 people still do not have power.”

But it’s not just in the Bad Weather States. When I came out here to California in 1987, I was surprised the power went out every couple of months. It still does. It happened to me in balmy Costa Mesa two months ago. I’m sitting here writing and the lights, computer screen, internet and Miles Davis on the stereo went out. I used my cell to try to find out what was going on with Southern California Edison. There’s a site that shows blackouts, but mine wasn’t on it.

Only a mild summer – no global warming! – in California prevented the expected planned blackouts in 2022. The state’s rickety electric grid is made worse by demanding a parallel grid for “alternative” energy, such as wind and solar. And those have their own problems: solar doesn’t produce and night, and wind when there’s no wind. Los Angeles also is banning gas stoves in new houses and apartments, mandating only electric.

It’s like living in Keev when one of those Russian drones strikes a power station. Only we’re not in a war zone. Are we?

How is it 1963 technology is better than 2023 technology? 

John Seiler writes at

John Seiler

John Seiler

3 Responses

  1. Allen Wilson says:

    The enviro-freaks have got to be stopped before they kill no telling how many people with their idiotic policies.

  2. Raymond Olson says:

    The first things I’d look at to explain the blackouts are maintenance records. I’m under the impression that maintenance has been underfunded and understaffed in both public and private sectors, and that the reasons for such neglect are that maintenance doesn’t make money (though it might save money) or exude the glamor of “the new”, of innovation. Anyone who owns a home knows that it involves a lot of fixing and replacing. You’d think people would transfer that knowledge to the upkeep of public services. But rugged individualists don’t want to. Abandon it, trash it, and move on to the shiny new.

  3. Michael Strenk says:

    Mr. Olson, It’s a good thing that they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars across the country on fire-prone, dangerous and expensive “smart” meters so that they can pin point exactly where the outage is, the better to ignore it. But as they are eminently hackable at least forward thinking burglary crews can find out, without a physical stake-out, whether anyone is at home. Or they can buy the information from bent utility employees the same way that mobsters used to purchase whole tranches of credit cards from corrupt postal workers. Every advancement in technology seems to be geared toward making theft easier and less dangerous for the crooks; like the legal innovation in New York banning handguns, introduced by a legislator from Redhook who was getting complaints from his constituents that too many of them were getting shot while robbing peoples’ homes.

    I remember well the Blizzard of ’77, which, in New York took the shape of a vicious ice storm. We had no power for two weeks, because the lines were mostly taken down by untrimmed tree limbs collapsing under the weight of ice. It was great! no school, barbecuing in the back yard all day long, sliding around on the ice. It was magical. I got to talking to a man at the beer distributor a few years ago. He had been a electric utility worker in ’77. He said that when they finally got to the still mostly agricultural areas on the east end of Long Island, the farmers calmly asked when they might expect their power back. They were barely inconvenienced. We’ve all become a bit too fragile.