Group unveils new plan to power the Copper Country

Group unveils new plan to power the Copper Country

HANCOCK — The Keweenaw Renewable Energy Coalition unveiled its plan to power 100% of the electric demand in the Copper Country using alternate fuels Monday.

The coalition hosted its Keweenaw Energy Summit at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock.  It featured many special guests including Finnish biomass expert Asko Ojaniemi.  He showed how Finland was able to generate fuel using biomass.

KREC Treasurer Sam Lockwood says their plan is similar to that while adding two other forms of renewable energy.

“Ten to eighteen megawatts of biomass generation, supplemented with wind and solar, which are two assets that we have in abundance here,” Lockwood said.  “Those are no-fuel, zero-emission assets that take care of us for at least the next 20 years.”

The proposal called for twelve wind turbines that will each create 19 megawatts of wind power and 22 megawatts of solar energy, along with a woody biomass plant.  The plant and wind turbines will all be placed throughout Houghton and Keweenaw counties.

Lockwood added the location of those facilities would be strictly up to the local communities, who came today to learn about what the plans are.

“I think we’ve got a problem-solving dialogue started and that’s great. That’s what we had hoped to do,” he said.  “I think the science and technology are ready for implementation so we need our finance guys and our developers to come in now.”

Representatives from the Michigan Tech Keweenaw Research Center, local utilities, and city officials attended the event.  The KREC has received support from state lawmakers, who are fighting to stop the increase in utility rates set to take place next month.