More information behind energy price increase

MARQUETTE — After a close vote last night by the Marquette City Commission, some big changes will be taking place with Marquette Board of Light and Power customers.

Monday night the Marquette City Commission voted 4 to 3 in favor of a cost increase from the Marquette Board of Light and Power.

The raise was called for in order to pay for the BLP’s plans for the new Marquette Energy Center. It’s expected to contain three 17 megawatt natural gas engines.

“This is a great day, it’s a great event,” said BLP Executive Director Paul A. Kitti, “it shows great support for developing a new energy center which is going to provide reliability for the next four decades for all of the citizens and businesses in Marquette. It’s going to serve as a great opening for attracting and retaining new businesses to move into the area, tourism, families moving into the area. It’s just real vibrant to put a 65 million dollar facility in.”

Members of the city commission said the need to make a prompt but informed decision was in the best interest in order to save money and ensure consistent energy service.

“I think it’s the best deal for the citizens of the Marquette area,” said Marquette Mayor Pro Tem Dave Campana, “number one is reliability. We all know and we all agree that we need reliability. In order to get the reliability we had to build this plan and I felt that after looking at all of the figures and all of the studies that the sooner we do it, the lower the price.”

With the rate increase passing with a four to three vote there was obviously some opposition. Marquette Commissioner Tom Baldini said that he would have liked to see other alternative solutions along with more time.

“There’s an old saying that politics is about tomorrow, not yesterday,” said Marquette Commissioner Tom Baldini, “and we do have to move forward. I do have this uneasy feeling that we are going to spend a lot of money in the next 20 years on (wondering) is it really the best thing that this community could do.”

Site preparation for the new energy center will begin this upcoming winter, with construction taking place in the summer.

“We are anticipating lighting these units off in probably the end of March or April timeframe of 2017,” added Kitti, “we’ve got about a 15 month window ahead of us and we’re fairly optimistic about this.”

The rate increase will go into effect in October 2016.