Sunday, May 29, 2016

Civic Systems: Power

Power corrupts.                                   
Absolute power is kind of neat.         
                            --Donald Regan

Karenna and Marcellin took us to the University of Michigan Central Power Plant for their exploration of power in Ann Arbor. One of the directors of the operation, Jim Watterson, handed over the conference room for the students' explanation of how the steam-based turbines of the plant work (Jim was duly impressed). They also spent some time discussing the plant's transition from coal to steam in 1966, an environmentally based change that was years ahead of its time. After Marcellin and Karenna led a debate on the pros and cons of coal power, Jim took us into the control room of the whole enterprise (below). The next time you pass that huge plant where Huron turns into Washtenaw, you'll know why nothing ever comes out of that smokestack. It's been obsolete for fifty years.

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