Across the country, utilities, regulators and government officials are grappling with the complex question of how to replace the energy from retiring power plants.
On Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, that transition is playing out on a much more urgent timescale.
“We’re in a crisis right now,” said state Rep. Scott Dianda, who represents an area northwest of Marquette on the Keweenaw Peninsula. “We need to have reliable power up here. That’s the number one thing — reliable, reasonable rates for power.”
Dianda’s colleague, Democratic state Rep. John Kivela from Marquette, added: “It is our biggest issue in the Upper Peninsula, without question. It’s that dire.”
A mix of regulatory agencies, nonprofits, politicians, utilities, businesses and residents all have a stake in the next chapter, as We Energies winds down operations at the coal-fired, 450 MW Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette — the biggest source of power in this 16,000-square-mile wilderness.
The plant will be closed “as soon as practically possible,” according to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).
In the meantime, experts and elected officials are planning a roadmap that many hope will feature more localized, distributed sources — a departure from the centralized, expensive and transmission-heavy system of today.