State Representative Scott Dianda has introduced legislation calling on the Michigan Public Service Commission to create an Upper Peninsula-wide energy plan. Dianda says the region dodged a bullet with the compromise reached to keep the Presque Isle power plant in business until 2020, and that the reprieve should be used to find ways to generate power in the region that will be cleaner, more reliable, and cost less. Dianda noted that Governor Rick Snyder has encouraged the U.P. to work as a single entity for economic development, and that the first requirement for that development is affordable, reliable power.
Here is Dianda’s full statement:
State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) today introduced House Resolution 32 calling on the Michigan Public Service Commission to create an Upper Peninsula-wide energy plan.
“With the energy issues the U.P. has faced last year and again this year, I think we need the MPSC to create a plan that will meet energy objectives and customer needs so that we have a reliable, long-term service for U.P. homes and businesses,” said Dianda. “Reliable energy is critical if we are going to see thriving manufacturing and mining operations, and if we are going to attract more jobs to our U.P. communities.”
Last winter, U.P. energy customers faced a propane shortage. This year, electricity costs were expected to rise for all customers when the Presque Isle Power Plant faced losing its two biggest customers – two U.P. mines. That power plant is scheduled to be closed in 2020, so there is an opportunity now to replace at least a portion of the plant’s capacity with renewable energy resources including woody biomass, geothermal, wind and solar energy.
“We can’t limp along from energy crisis to energy crisis each year and expect the U.P. economy to survive” said Dianda. “Our U.P. industries don’t just meet the needs of our residents. The mining and tourism industries are important to the Michigan economy as a whole. That is why we need to get a handle on the energy issues the U.P. is facing, and I believe that our Michigan Public Service Commission is best suited for that task.”
A publicly funded integrated plan for the entire U.P. created by the MPSC could identify the pros and cons of all available energy resources, and better inform government officials, private interests and customers of the available energy options. This plan could also offer the best plan for helping customers conserve energy to ensure their long-term needs are met.
“The Governor tells us that the U.P. should be acting as one prosperity region, and that we should be planning for economic development together. Well, I can’t think of more important place to start. We need affordable, reliable energy to grow our economy,” said Dianda. “It is time for everybody to come to the table and work towards a plan in a process that is fair and transparent, and offers the best deal for the customer.”