Public input crucial for future energy policy

State officials working to craft a long-term energy plan for Michigan are seeking public input and Upper Peninsula residents should take note.

Steve Bakkal, the director of the Michigan Energy Office, and Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman John Quackenbush are hosting energy forums across the state, including one that took place in Marquette last week.

There, more than 70 attendees had the chance to offer public input and saw presentations from Cliffs Natural Resources, SEMCO Energy, American Transmission Co. and the National Wildlife Federation, among other organizations.

Renewable energy and related technologies have been the most discussed topic thus far, according to Quackenbush.

The sizable turnout at the Marquette forum is heartening, but this is an issue with the potential to affect everyone in the state.

Utilizing the public comment gathered during the winter and spring, Quackenbush and Bakkal will spend the summer crafting a proposal for Gov. Rick Snyder. That plan will be presented in the fall and will then be used to inform future Michigan energy policies.

The outcome of those legislative discussions, which will likely take place in 2014, could impact everything from consumer power rates to environmental protection efforts.

Local residents that were unable to attend last week’s forum shouldn’t miss a final opportunity to share their opinions with state officials.

Public comments can be submitted online at and will be weighted exactly as those comments offered at the seven forums across the state.

The site has background information on Snyder’s three focus areas, renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric choice and visitors will be able to complete an optional survey.

Additionally, the site includes copies of the presentations from each public forum.

The state’s energy future is a vital issue with economic, social and environmental implications. We urge U.P. residents to make their voices heard.