UP Energy Task Force holds first meeting

Jul 10, 2019

The UP Energy Task Force held its first meeting in Marquette on Tuesday to discuss the energy needs of the Upper Peninsula.

At the inaugural task force meeting, the nineteen member board discussed what they hoped to tackle over the coming months.

Mike Prusi is with the Governor’s Northern Michigan Office. He said he’s interested in learning about rates.

“How did the UP end up with such disparate utility rates? Why do we pay more than pretty much anywhere else in the country?”

The task force, which was created by Governor Whitmer in June, will eventually look at rates but will first focus on alternatives for supplying propane to the UP in the event that the Line 5 pipeline is shut down.

Sally Talberg is with the Michigan Public Service Commission. She gave a presentation on what the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, which previously looked into the issue, had found.

“So I think there is a gap of really understanding from a contingency standpoint how would we supply propane in the event that the line was decommissioned or something happened to it.’

Talberg said the goal will be to look at how to ensure reliable supply of propane to the UP.

Kris Bowman is with Bowman Gas, based out of Gulliver in the central UP. He asked why, if the purpose of the task force was to address propane reliability, he was the only “propane guy” present.

Members of the board laughed and told Kris he was there to “represent.”

Another member, Chris Swartz, of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, said one of the largest propane consumers are the native Americans in the Eastern part of the UP.

A propane plan is due to the Governor by March.