Stabenow speaks about bills to stop electric rate hike

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Now that the electric rate hike that was scheduled to hit the U.P. in less than two weeks has been delayed, new bills in Congress may pass quickly enough to prevent it from taking place at all.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced a Senate version of a bill to prevent the rate hike from taking place. Congressmen Dan Benishek and Gary Peters have introduced a House version.

The POWER Act would allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to stop the pending $100 million rate increase.

“I was in shock, I’m sure like everybody in the U.P., when they rolled out those rate increases,” Stabenow said. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

Stabenow says that only about one-seventh of the electricity produced at Marquette’s Presque Isle Power Plant is now used by U.P. customers. However, federal officials decided that the U.P. needs to pay for almost all of the plant’s operating costs.

“Congressman Benishek and I have talked, as well as Senator-Elect Gary Peters,” Stabenow said. “We all agree that this would be absolutely outrageous if these kinds of rate hikes were going to hit families and seniors and businesses in the U.P. It’s a matter of fairness, and everyone ought to be paying their fair share. If 14% of the electricity is used by folks in the U.P., they shouldn’t be paying 99% of the bill.”

The rate increase was scheduled to happen on December 1st. FERC has delayed it for the time being in order to further investigate the issue.