Yesterday at the Franklin Square Inn, the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team held a meeting with local members of the community for a presentation on the current and future U.P. energy landscape and potential responses to the situation.
But first, you have to identify the problem and the numbers show that Houghton County has the highest electric rates in the state of Michigan and the average residential rates in the United States rank second only to Hawaii. Team chairman Abhi Kantamneni says these rates will continue to increase and will make it hard to live in Houghton County.
“The median income of people in this county and city are 50% of what the Michigan average is and 60% of what the national average is. So we as a community have tried to come together to find a way out of this problem to fix rising electric costs,” Kantamneni said.
The team recently entered into the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition which challenges communities across the country to create a long–term plan to reduce energy usage. The winner of the competition receives a $5 million prize for that community.
“What Houghton Energy Efficiency Team, the team that was formed to help Houghton County participate in the Georgetown University Energy Prize, is trying to do is to participate in the overlap between reducing costs and increasing efficiency and reducing the usage,” said Kantamneni.
Already, Houghton County is one of 52 communities who advanced to the quarterfinals and is by far the smallest and most rural of them all. Kantamneni says he is very confident in their plan because of the overwhelming support they have received on this project.
“We have one of the best engineering colleges in town. We have utilities who have stepped in and said “yes we are willing to participate and we are willing to help resolve this problem that the community has. And our ability to come together, roll up our sleeves and with a little bit of good old sisu, I think we can show the country how if a bunch of local people come together, they can solve their own problems,” Kantamneni said.
For more information about the competition and what you can do to help, head to their website at HoughtonEnergyEfficiency.org.