Community gathers to discuss potential rate increase

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Board of Light and Power is looking to pass a big rate increase, but the community wanted to have its say first.

The Board of Light and Power and the City of Marquette Board of Commissioners met today to talk about the proposed rate hike and give community members a chance to respond. MBLP wants to purchase three Warstila units to replace the aging, coal powered generators currently in place. However, they have a price tag of sixty million dollars.

“The revenue would come from increasing the rates and that’s the issue, because it’s a substantial increase,” said Mayor Mike Coyne, “It’s kind of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you don’t do it then you don’t have reliable power and if you do do it, it’s profoundly expensive. But, if you don’t do it, when all the lights go out, people will say, ‘Why didn’t you do it?’ If you do it, people are going to say, ‘Why did you do it? It’s raising the rates so much.'”

The proposed rate increase is currently 30% starting October of 2016, but it could jump as high as 40% in the years following. The current generators have an average age of thirty eight years and need to be replaced. The Shiras III unit is producing 90% of the energy generated. The new Warstilas would be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

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