ISHPEMING — Unless something is done at the federal level, your electric bill will probably rise quite a bit in the near future. It’s because of a change in how the operating costs of Marquette’s Presque Isle Power Plant are paid for.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled in August that U.P. electric customers will have to begin footing most of the bill for the plant. Wisconsin customers have been paying more than 90% of the costs until now. Starting December 1st, U.P. customers will have to pay for more than half of those expenses through increased bills.

“We’re expecting that our average residential customer who uses about 800 kilowatt-hours a month would see a cost of about $27 per month of an increase, close to $350 a year,” Cloverland Electric Cooperative president and CEO Dan Dasho said.

The increased costs could hit schools, hospitals, small businesses and other entities so hard that they may have no choice but to close. Cloverland Electric Co-Op has held three public meetings recently to discuss the issue, and the last of those was last night in Manistique.

“(A staff member from) Senator Levin’s office was at our meeting and had some comments for everybody and asked that people write her office in Marquette, and we have some information on our website about how to do that, because she’ll get the information to the Senator,” Dasho said. “I’ve got a call in to (Senator) Stabenow’s office as well, cluing them in on what’s going on.”

Congressman Dan Benishek has written a letter to the chairwoman of FERC, explaining the adverse effects the funding formula will have on the region. Dasho says utilities will also work with lawmakers in Lansing and others to stand up to the funding order.