Solution to U.P. energy problems may be in sight

Published: Feb. 13, 2017 at 6:20 PM EST
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According to Gov. Rick Snyder, Upper Michigan is getting closer to reliable, affordable energy.

“This was a crisis for a long time, but this is a crisis where much of the solution, we’re on a road map to get there,” Snyder said.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) is currently evaluating potential benefits of electric transmission between the Upper Peninsula and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Specifically, the

is looking to see if a Canada-Michigan connection would lower costs and increase reliability in the U.P.

The MISO study is also evaluating benefits of strengthening the connection between the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula at the Straits of Mackinac.

“Right now, we're dependent on another state for the bulk of our energy needs and that has not served us well in both reliability and cost," Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, said. "So we need to look at connecting the peninsulas.”

Building a transmission line at the Straits would be costly, which is why some don't think it is a practical solution.

“It just makes absolutely no financial sense to be able to connect the Lower Peninsula with the Upper Peninsula,” Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, said.

Instead, Dianda proposed Upper Michigan generate its own power.

"Two gas plants will be built: one in Marquette County, one in Baraga County,” Dianda said. “Marquette Board of Water and Light has been excellent in their expansion of power in Marquette city. That's what has to be done."

Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, on the other hand, said the benefits of connecting the peninsulas might outweigh the costs of building it.

“Is it going to save us more money over the long run then it costs to put it in?” LaFave said. “From the people I've spoken to, the industry experts, the answer is almost certainly yes.”

The energy discussion continues Thursday, Feb. 16 when several industry professionals come to Marquette for the


Snyder will be among those in attendance.