MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission had a big decision on their plate Monday evening.

The Board of Light and Power had a joint work session with the Commission to talk about the proposed 30% rate increase. The increase would help cover the purchase of the new Marquette Energy Center and relieve stress on the aging generators currently in place.

“The major issue is reliability and there are lots of issues and problems with reliability, mainly because of connection with the grids. We’re kind of at the end of the line of a long extension cord and if Presque Isle Power Plant closes, that’s going to create a big problem. We need to have reliable, affordable power for Marquette to both live here and to progress economically,” said Mayor Mike Coyne.

There’s no denying that the current system needs to be upgraded. Of the three generators, Unit One has been out of commission for thirty years and Unit Three is so inefficient it’s not cost effective to run. If the third unit, Shiras III were to break down in the dead of winter, it could be catastrophic.

“I don’t think anyone disagrees with the fact that this probably needs to be done, I think it needs to be done differently,” said one community member during public comment.
“What would be most helpful is how the…different generation and transmission issues were actually evaluated and what other generation sources and what other transmission sources were considered,” another added.

In the end, the Commission voted to approve the rate increase. It will go into effect in October of 2016.