DETROIT In a special, in-depth analysis of the city of Detroit’s lighting and electrical system, The Detroit News discovered a substantial gap between private and public costs.

Detroit Edison, reported the newspaper on May 6, spends about $22 to produce a megawatt of electricity. Applying similar cost accounting to the city of Detroit’s publicly-owned generating facility and distribution network, a "conservative estimate" puts the cost at about $57–or 2-1/2 times as much as Detroit Edison’s cost.

Cost isn’t the only factor suggesting Detroit might want to privatize its power system. Customers are unhappy with the quality and dependability of the city’s service too. The Wayne State University campus, for instance, "suffers from frequent power outages and brownouts in buildings supplied by the city, as opposed to those whose power comes from Detroit Edison."

The same Detroit News story provided another stunning comparison: "Philadelphia, which has 13,000 more streetlights, illuminates its streets on a budget of $20 million, compared to the $57.7 million budget reported by the Detroit lighting department."