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Published: Friday, 12/2/2005

Nuts to 'security' secrecy

AT ABOUT 2:30 last Sunday afternoon, the lights went out on the Cleveland Browns, at least for some of their area fans. It wasn't just the loss to the Minnesota Vikings. It was the loss of electric power.

According to Consumers Energy, slightly more than 3,400 residents of southern Monroe County went dark when a squirrel somehow got into a substation and caused an equipment failure.

The outage occurred about halfway through the game, and shortly thereafter members of the squirrel family in Lambertville and elsewhere were being called names a little less charitable than "our furry friends."

What came as a surprise, reading our copy of The Blade the following morning, was that a natural inquisitiveness about the location of the outage was to be thwarted.

The substation could not be identified, a utility spokesman said, for homeland security reasons.

Now homeland security is a serious business, and those who work diligently to protect us deserve our respect and support. But exactly how does the location of a small substation in a corner of southeastern Michigan warrant identity protection?

We don't fault the utility. Rules are rules, and they have to go according to the book. But unless we are missing something, the book seems to be taking things a bit far.

Even if the substation was targeted by terrorists, it wouldn't impact the electric grid or a power plant. Just the folks hoping to see the second half of the game.

It's understandable that a power company wouldn't want to give precise locations of its substations if only to protect against malicious damage or vandalism. But where's the homeland security risk in sharing with folks a few more details of why they lost power?

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