Renewable energy a major focus at 2019 UP Energy Summit

Published: Jun. 14, 2019 at 2:43 PM EDT
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Representatives from the world of energy and government were present at the U.P. Energy Summit Friday.

For more than a decade representatives from power and energy companies have held this annual summit to better educate the community on issues in the region.

"Energy continues to be on the minds of Yoopers and they're interested in working collaboratively and collectively to come up with the solutions that will provide the energy that we require for many years to come," said Brett French, vice president of business development and communications with the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO).

A major topic of discussion at this year's summit was renewable energy.

"Renewable energy is here to stay and we expect it to continue to grow and evolve as we go forward," said French.

As companies transition to cleaner energy, other sources and practices remain in place.

"Having a diverse supply of energy resources is really critical for reliability, also affordability if there's price changes," said Sally Talberg, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission.

One of the most important items on the agenda was an update on Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel project.

"The main point is that Line 5 is safe and Line 5 is operating efficiently, delivering the energy that the U.P., that Michigan, that the region needs to keep moving our families, our businesses, and our industries forward," said Peter Holran, director of state government affairs with Enbridge.

Not everyone is convinced about the safety of the project though.

"Enbridge is responsible for the largest inland oil spill in United States history, and guess where it happened?” said Dr. Martin Reinhardt, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “Right here in Michigan, in the Kalamazoo River. So, we don't need another Enbridge mess up."

Enbridge promises safety, and if permitting allows it, they hope to begin construction in 2021.

"That's all going to be happening on the north shore,” said Holran. “That's where the portal is that the tunnel boring machine will enter in to. All the extractions will be coming out. So there will be quite a bit of activity for about two years while the tunnel is being built."

Another major focus of the summit was networking. With the meeting only being annually, those connections help shape policy and practices throughout the year.

"The networking time is very important because again, we just don't get together face to face enough, we use technology," said Amy Clickner, CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership.

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