Peters talks about a U.P. issue on his mind as he enters U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The only Democrat to win an open U.S Senate seat in the November election has now taken office representing Michigan. Gary Peters was sworn in this afternoon after serving in the House of Representatives since 2009.

Senator Peters says he’ll be working on the now-delayed U.P. electric rate hikes coming from a federal order changing how the operating costs of Marquette’s Presque Isle Power Plant should be paid for. While in the House, he worked with Congressman Dan Benishek to develop a bill that would allow the rate hikes to be stopped.

“It would be a significant detriment to the economy of the Upper Peninsula and a significant detriment to middle–class families and small businesses in the U.P.,” Peters said. “It is definitely a priority for me. I will continue to focus on it. We’ve got to diversify the energy production in the U.P., to do it in a cost–effective way, and that’s going to take some time, and time needs to be granted for that to occur.”

Peters says he will make a point of reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans in the Senate, much as his predecessor, Senator Carl Levin, often did.

“Basically, the advice that he had is to work to build relationships, get to know Senators on an individual basis so it’s not just about the floor debates, but you know them personally as to what are their priorities, what are their interests, and work in a more collegial way,” Peters said. “Senator Levin did assure me that it’s very possible to do here in the Senate.”

Levin served in the Senate longer than anyone else in Michigan history. He first took office there in January 1979.