Affordable and reliable energy has been a major concern of the U.P. for decades, and I support solutions which lean heavily into improving the energy supply chain, energy conservation and weatherization, renewable energy sources, and affordability. I support Gov. Whitmer’s formation of the U.P. Energy Taskforce to examine the pressing energy issues unique to the UP. Our district has among the highest electricity prices in the U.S., and we all know the cost of heating for long winters. This hurts both homeowners and businesses and we need solutions soon. I would insist that Michigan's Pubic Service Commission have hearings in the UP when our rate changes are on the line or when setting caps on renewable energy production.
Climate change is real, and our use of fossil fuels is part of the problem. Better renewable energy policy could lower electricity costs while reducing greenhouse gases and should be promoted as part of the solution. Renewable energy sources such as the proposed solar installation near Escanaba could lower energy costs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Having net metering cap rules which encourage homeowner solar, wind and micro-hydro installations would also make a positive difference.
We have considerable renewable hydroelectric generation capacity, but we need to ensure that the dams and infrastructure are structurally sound to avoid the tragedies we have seen elsewhere in Michigan. Cloverland Electric Coop in the Eastern U.P. relies heavily on hydroelectric power, and currently has a residential rate much lower than those in the Western U.P. These high prices suppress our economic growth and jobs, and we need political and practical solutions to lower those prices. As an engineer and scientist, I understand these problems and as your representative can push for results.
Around a quarter of the homes in the Western UP use propane heating. and improving our propane supply chain would decrease our reliance on Enbridge Line 5. Making natural gas accessible to more customers in the Western U.P. would provide cheaper and cleaner heating. Weatherization and conservation efforts for our older housing stock have already demonstrated lower heating fuel usage and costs and I will work to pass more incentives directed at the U.P. Lower heating costs with less fuel burned is a win for all.