ESCANABA – The operation of the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette is becoming a big issue in the Upper Peninsula. State Sen. Casperson says keeping the plant open is critical for future of the U.P.
“In our case, we are on the end of the cord,” he said, “and that’s a dangerous place to be. That’s why Presque Isle is so important to us because we can only get so much power in on the transmission lines.”
Casperson said the proposed placement of transmission lines by American Transmission Company (ATC) in the southern U.P. has become controversial because people don’t like the big power lines.
“Right now, that kind of power is our only chance and keeping the Presque Isle Power Plant open for the actually power used in the U.P. We can only have so much that we can bring into the U.P. which is coming out of Wisconsin and then what we can produce ourselves,” Casperson said.
We Engeries operates the Presque Isle Power Plant. They recently lost their largest customer, the mining company Cliffs Natural Resources. But Casperson said they are also under threat from the federal government.
“It has everything to do with the EPA proposing brand new air quality standards for 2017. Presque Isle cannot met that standard. Now that sounds like that plant must be old and dirty and just terrible. That’s not the case. They’ve met the greaest and latest standards that have been put out there. But the EPA keeps changing the standards,” said Casperson.
He said it has become clear that the EPA has a declared war on coal-powered plants.
Officials from Marquette County attended a hearing Friday in Rhinelander, Wis., with Casperson and others to learn more about their rights regarding federal regulations on this and other issues.
Casperson said the ability to produce power in the U.P. is important for economic development.
“How do you get investors to come into the Upper Peninsula if our power situation becomes dicey. Would you want to invest in a plant up here having no idea where your power bill is going to be in the next two years, three years. That’s what they are creating and we have to stop that,” he said.
Despite the power plant losing its number one customer, Casperson said the state will continue to work to insure that the plant can continue to operate.