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Michigan Upper Peninsula Power Crisis

In November 2013 Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced with great fanfare  that the coal-fired Presque Isle Power Plant in the Upper Peninsula was going to be refurbished. We Energies and Wolverine Power Cooperative had just announced the two companies had entered a joint venture that would have resulted in joint ownership along with the installation of state-of-the-art emission controls. What a difference a year makes. 

We now have the announcement that the joint venture has been terminated, and that We Energies has unsuccessfully sought to shut down the plant rather than installing emissions controls required for coal-fired power plants. We Energies says it now intends to complete a system support resources agreement with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator for the output of the Presque Isle plant. This agreement is expected to have a one-year term. We Energies will also evaluate long-term options for the plant, including the possibility of establishing a process to solicit other potential buyers for some or all of the plant’s capacity. 

This turn of events puts pressure on the State of Michigan to craft a long term solution for how electricity will be supplied to U.P. electric customers. If electricity is not delivered from the Presque Isle facility the apparent competing option under consideration is to build a new transmission line from Wisconsin to import power. One must ask, why is a robust distributed energy effort not the most viable alternative? Generation built in the communities and sized to fit the electric needs of communities would make sense. Let's see if this becomes a part of the Govenor's 2014 effort to Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions.

© 2022 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume IV, Number 4
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About this Author

Bruce Goodman, Environmental lawyer, Varnum
Counsel

Bruce practices energy law, environmental law, and construction law. His energy background includes negotiating electric power sales agreements (both for wholesale sellers of energy and for retail consumers of energy) state electric rate cases, developing municipal energy tariffs, and energy project structuring and permitting. For years, he published a blog focused on alternative energy developments in Michigan. Most recently he has been involved in various alternative energy projects, including wind energy, biofuels and solar projects.

His environmental experience includes air...

616-336-6574
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