Analysis of proposed natural gas power plants points out downfalls, urges citizens to take action

ISHPEMING — Last week, the Indiana-based Power Bureau released an analysis of the Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC) proposal to build two natural gas stations here in the UP. The information revealed not only would it not be cost effective as the company has stated, but that UMERC failed to consider alternatives, which the Power Bureau says is against state law. ABC 10’s Chelsea Birdsall has the details.

The independent analysis was commissioned by GlidePath Power Solutions, a power project developer based out of Chicago and, according to the release, used publicly available data from UMERC as well as the from GlidePath’s project. The Power Bureau analyzed that information and found customers would be overcharged by $372 million, with each customer paying more than $10,000 over 30 years for additional costs. In addition, the analysis also noted that ratepayers would only be using 35 percent of the power generated from the plants, but would be paying over 70 percent of the costs, creating a cost-shifting issue.

“We feel that the ratepayers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan pay the highest rates in the country and this proposal UMERC has is going to do nothing to change that and there will be high rates here for the foreseeable future if this moves forward,” said GlidePath CEO, Dan Foley.

The consultancy company also suggests that UMERC broke state law by failing to consider the most financially reasonable and prudent options. Furthermore, the company goes on to say that UMERC failed to even request competitive bids from other private sector power plant developers and that the current proposal was developed QUOTE behind closed doors END QUOTE by UMERC and Cliffs Natural Resources.

UMERC responded to the analysis, saying GlidePath did not offer a viable proposal despite numerous opportunities to do so. They went further to address that they don’t believe the analysis can qualify as independent as GlidePath paid for it in order to push their ideas, which included a project that would not have met the needs of Cliffs or other customers. GlidePath CEO Dan Foley said his company had been working on an idea to implement wide-spread innovative ideas that would provide an all-encompassing solution for high reliability at a low price.

“Wind is part of the solution because of the price, supplemented with gas, supplemented with solar,” Foley said. “It’s not just one size fits all, or we’re going to use the old utility business model of large, centralized plants. The idea is to distribute the generation over a larger footprint, but with smaller generation with different fuel makes to provide reliability and actually provide financial stability.”

Right now, the UMERC proposal is in front of the Michigan Public Service Commission for approval, and Foley suggests concerned citizens speak out.

“Let the commission know you want a more robust solution that leads to more economic development in the U.P. and not have this 1950’s solution for a 21st century problem,” Foley said. “The proposal is like me offering you a rotary dial phone when there’s an iPhone available at a cheaper price.”

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