MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula Power Company announced today that it has submitted two filings with the Michigan Public Service Commission, which will lower power costs for customers.
The first filing requests the transfer of administrative responsibility for the Energy Waste Reduction program from the State to UPPCO. The EWR program provides funding for energy-efficient projects and if UPPCO were to assume responsibility this coming January, it would save the company one million dollars to pass on to customers.
The second filing would allow UPPCO to participate in the 2018 Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, which helps low-income households with winter power bills and energy-use education. LIEAF funds already assist several UP agencies and is proven to be a benefit to Upper Peninsula households, according to UPPCO.
“So this is just a first step on two of the programs. We’re looking at several of the other aspects and looking at all of our costs,” said UPPCO CEO, James Larsen. “Our objective is to lower costs. Our focus right now is we’re really looking at residential rates – I think that’s the most important to look at.”
The filings will result in minimal reductions for residential, commercial and industrial customers.
MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) submitted two filings with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the net result of which will lower power costs for residential, commercial and industrial customers.
While customers will only experience a minor reduction to their monthly bills, it is a step forward in addressing the cost of power for UPPCO customers, helping customers use less energy, and increasing support to lower-income customers.
Energy Waste Reduction (EWR)
This first filing involves UPPCO’s decision to transfer administrative responsibility for the Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) program from the State to UPPCO. The EWR program provides funding for energy efficiency projects, including appliance rebates and lighting programs for residential, commercial and industrial customers. With UPPCO overseeing the program starting this January, the company expects to achieve an estimated $1,000,000 in savings per year that it will pass on to customers. On average, residential customers will realize a $1.30 to $3.90 monthly savings. Commercial and industrial customers will also see a decrease of $14.30 to $129.00 a month.
Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF)
The second filing involves UPPCO’s decision to participate in the 2018 Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (LIEAF), which provides weatherization, financial assistance during critical winter months, and energy-use education to help low-income households to permanently reduce energy bills and move toward self-sufficiency. UPPCO’s participation in LIEAF will go into effect in September of 2017. It is expected to increase assistance to hundreds of customers.
LIEAF funds are distributed to several U.P. agencies. Superior Watershed Partnership’s Executive Director, Carl Lindquist, sees a great need for this program “The Low-Income Energy Efficiency Fund helps make it possible to provide people with heating assistance and energy conservation assistance when they need it most. New funding for LIEAF means the Superior Watershed Partnership and other community action organizations will be able to help more people.”
The LIEAF program has already proven to be a great benefit to many U.P. households. TrueNorth, a statewide organization that provides energy assistance to low-income households, has already assisted more than 700 UPPCO households in 2017 with paying heat and energy bills. TrueNorth’s President and CEO, Bev Cassidy, noted, “The heating season in the U.P. is especially snowy and cold. Many households struggle to stay safe and warm during the long winter months. Grants that our organization receives through State and Federal utility funding provide vital assistance to households in need.”
Net Impact to Customers
While the Michigan Public Service Commission will not determine the actual LIEAF rate until later in July, the monthly charge to customers will not exceed one dollar. When added to the larger savings from the EWR program, residential customers will experience an overall cost reduction of $0.30 to $2.90 a month. Commercial and industrial customers will experience an overall cost reduction of $13.30 to $128.00 a month.
UPPCO’s new CEO, Jim Larsen, who started in his position just three months ago, is committed to finding solutions that will help to reduce costs and improve service for UPPCO customers. He explained, “For the past 30 months, UPPCO has prioritized operational projects so customers would continue to receive safe, reliable power during the ownership transition to a U.P. headquartered company.” Larsen noted that with most of the projects nearing completion, UPPCO’s management team can now refocus efforts on addressing energy costs and customer service. Larsen added, “We’re working to make power more affordable for our customers. As a regulated utility in the U.P., there are many complex factors that contributed to these higher power costs. We’re carefully reviewing each of them and addressing those that can be changed.”
Larsen brings new energy to the company and a renewed commitment to transparency. He noted, “UPPCO is committed to communicating more regularly with our community and providing customers with more frequent updates on our initiatives and programs. Our 175 employees are your friends and neighbors. Together we’re dedicated to delivering safe and reliable power, and in generation from clean renewable hydro energy.”