UPPCO: Unseasonably wet weather expected to reduce energy costs

Shown is UPPCO’s Boney Falls hydroelectric facility. UPPCO officials say unseasonably wet weather has resulted in higher hydroelectric generation at its facilities and ratepayers may see financial benefits in next year’s billing cycle. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — Significant rainfall and cooler temperatures may have dampened the spirits of outdoor recreationists this summer, but the weather has provided for an increase in the production of clean, renewable energy from Upper Peninsula Power Company’s hydroelectric generation fleet, utility company officials said.

“The extra rainfall has increased the water level in our reservoirs allowing additional hydroelectric generators to run this summer,” UPPCO CEO Jim Larsen said in a news release. “During the month of July, we produced more than twice the amount of energy we would typically expect to see based on the 10-year average. Combined with the wet spring, we have produced approximately 57 percent more electricity than a typical year.”

UPPCO owns and operates seven hydroelectric dams along the Dead, Escanaba, Ontonagon and Sturgeon rivers. UPPCO’s hydroelectric generation fleet produces about 18 percent of the company’s energy requirements during a typical year, exceeding the state’s renewable portfolio standard, according to the release.

UPPCO’s hydro facilities also provide fish and wildlife habitat, offer recreational opportunities for U.P. residents and visitors and support the local tax base, officials said. The additional energy being produced reduces the need for energy purchases, helping to lower the overall cost to customers, and those savings will be passed on to customers beginning with the January 2018 billing cycle, the release states.

“This could be a banner year for energy production out of (UPPCO’s) hydrogeneration fleet. When combined with other measures being taken by UPPCO’s leadership team, we expect to see lower energy bills for customers beginning with the January 2018 billing cycle,” Larsen said. “We take great pride in knowing our hydros provide considerable value to our customers and the entire Upper Peninsula.”

For more information on UPPCO’s hydroelectric generation fleet, visit www.uppco.com.