MARQUETTE – More than 300 people attended the U.P. Energy Summit in Marquette Tuesday to assess how the pending increase in electric rates in December might affect the Upper Peninsula and talk about plans to build more generations facilities in the U.P.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruled that electric users in the Upper Peninsula pay for the operation of the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette rather than spread the cost throughout the grid. Starting Dec. 1, U.P. residents will go from paying for 8 percent of the cost of the plant to 99 percent.
State officials sent a letter to FERC Tuesday asking the federal government to work with the state to avert the rate increases and consider alternative generation plans. It was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schutte, Congressman Dan Benishek and Congressman Fred Upton who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Valerie Brader, Deputy Legal Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Snyder, said the issue is very important to the Upper Peninsula.
“What we asked FERC to do in this letter is to become more of a partner with the states, to recognize there really is an opportunity for a solution and to give a fair shot to solutions that are better instead of continuing mindlessly down a course that we think would be disastrous for the U.P.,” Brader said.
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Brader offered that new generation facilities are the answer rather than transmission lines. She said that several sites have been identified in the U.P. for possible generation facilities.
Congressman Benishek says there is a commitment for a new natural gas powered plant in the U.P. but that it won’t work if FERC continues to insist on raising electric rates in the interim.
At the summit, Robert Garvin, senior vice president of external affairs at We Energies and Melissa Seymour, executive director external affairs at Mid-Continent Independent System Operator (MISO) gave their perspectives on the power situation in the U.P.
Brett French, external relations manager at American Transmission Company also provided on update on the construction of new power transmission lines in the U.P.