Time grows short to find solution to power plant issue

We support Gov. Rick Snyder in his quest for any solution that keeps the Presque Isle Power Plant operating and does not result in unaffordable rates for consumers.

We also agree with previous assessments by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. that the plant, which employs 170 people, is important to the region’s electric reliability.

“From the governor’s perspective, we believe the plant coming down is the wrong choice,” said Valerie Brader, deputy legal counsel and senior policy advisor to Snyder. “We think for the U.P., for all kinds of reasons -adaptability, reliability, affordability, protection of the environment- it’s important that that plant remain up and we’re ready to work with stakeholders to make that happen.”

A closure of the plant could have severe impacts to Marquette tax revenue and per-pupil funding to the Marquette Area Public Schools district. The closure could also pose problems from an energy standpoint for the Marquette Board of Light and Power.

Under some scenarios, Wisconsin Electric Company ratepayers in the Upper Peninsula could see rate increases estimated at 71 percent.

A cooperative decision is needed soon and several entities including MISO, the Michigan and Wisconsin public service commissions, We Energies, the Wolverine Power Cooperative, the American Transmission Co. and others need to work together to find that solution.

“We think this problem has to get solved fast so that whatever the future is we have time to actually implement the solution before it turns into a reliability crisis or an affordability crisis,” Brader said. “We don’t have a lot of time, because again if you’re looking at how long it takes to get transmission there, we’re pretty much out of time. If you’ve got to get those pollution control devices installed, we basically need to start soon, like in a couple of months soon.”

Like Brader and Snyder, we think the creativity of the entities involved can find a solution acceptable to everyone over the long-term. But the clock is ticking.