Input on state energy policy sought

MARQUETTE – A pair of state agencies will host a public energy forum in Marquette on Friday.

The forum, titled “Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions,” is one of seven statewide gatherings aimed at collecting public input on the state of Michigan’s energy policy. The forum will be from 1 to 5 p.m. in Northern Michigan University’s Bottum University Center.

The forums were scheduled following Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s remarks during his special message on energy and the environment last fall.

“The governor wants, above all, an energy policy that is what he calls a no-regrets policy,” said Judy Palnau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission. “So that regardless of what the law is, Michigan’s law is adaptable enough to respond to any changes in the market.”

Snyder requested the heads of the state’s energy office and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs gather public input and compile a report for the governor and the Legislature.

That report will be used to inform the state’s energy decisions beyond 2015, when many state regulations expire.

“Many of the goals set out in our energy laws reach their goals in 2015,” Palnau said. “(Snyder) wants to be talking about next steps.”

For example, current law requires electric providers in the state to achieve a retail supply portfolio that includes at least 10 percent renewable energy by 2015.

Steve Bakkal, director of the Michigan Energy Office, and John Quackenbush, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, will be at the forum. In addition to others, representatives from SEMCO, Cliffs Natural Resources, American Transmission Company, the National Wildlife Federation and the Michigan State University Institute for Public Utilities are scheduled to give brief presentations.

At least two hours will be set aside for public comment, according to Palnau, who said the five previous forums have been very well attended.

“I would say most of them have been standing room only,” she said. “Most of them have gone at least the four hours, and several over four hours.”

Palnau said Snyder has voiced an interest in focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric choice and would like any new policies to be affordable, reliable and environmentally sound.

For those unable to attend Friday’s forum, public comment can be submitted electronically at A survey is also available at the site.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.