MARQUETTE - Two incumbents on the Marquette Board of Light and Power will face a challenge from a newcomer in Tuesday's election.
Challenger Laura Nagle and incumbents Karen Kimar-Johnson and John Prince are running for two seats on the BLP.
Each candidate was asked why they were running for the BLP and to elaborate on some issues facing the board and how they would address them. Word limits were imposed on the answers.
The candidates' written responses follow, in alphabetical order:
Kimar-Johnson: "I am currently running for a second, three-year term on the Marquette Board of Light and Power. During the campaign for my first term, I promised to commit to maintaining safe, reliable and affordable energy to Marquette residents. Having previously worked for a utility for 28 years, I felt my experience would be beneficial to the board. I have fulfilled my promise to the voters, and now, having gained almost three years of MBLP board experience, I am asking the voters to re-elect me to serve another term.
My reasons for serving remain the same. I am committed to maintaining safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers. And, with the recent retirement announcement of our current director, it is imperative that the board focus on a replacement for that position.
There is a delicate balance between investing in infrastructure to assure reliability (and to meet federal and state mandates) while maintaining affordable energy pricing for our customers. Our friends and neighbors to the west and south pay nearly twice as much for their electric energy. I do not want our utility to go down that path. We need to keep our rates affordable (which is essential for our seniors, business owners and economic development in our area) yet implement a sound program to ensure adequate and reliable power now and in the future. As a board member, I will continue to work with our leadership staff to craft a road map for the continued success of our local utility."
Nagle: "I am running for the MBLP because I love the U.P. The MBLP has been serving the people for over a hundred years and as a member of the Board of Light and Power I would hope to enlighten our community and empower the people. Understanding the energy usage of our community is an important variable in cutting costs as well as optimizing energy use. I have dedicated a significant amount of time to researching energy options, attending energy conferences as well as studying the management of current systems. I hope to use my knowledge and willingness to learn as two great tools in diversifying our energy portfolio.
The most immediate issue that MBLP faces is renewable energy. Marquette has current renewable energy practices including incentives for energy conservation and hydroelectric generation. Regardless of the outcome of Proposal 3, an initiative to increase renewable energy to 25 percent by the year 2025 and decrease dependency on fossil fuel, I believe that the MBLP is on the right track. According to the MBLP web page (www.mblp.org), 'The Renewable Energy Plan under PA 295 requires electric utilities to provide 10 percent of their electric generation from renewable energy sources by 2015.' Our economic development should not be stifled by the capacity of our current systems and we must use Janusian thinking to look at this issue from all angles."
Prince: "I am currently on and running for the Marquette Board of Light and Power open board seat. We are very fortunate to have our own power plant and have an incredible staff. This allows us to control our electrical generation, distribution and cost and not have to depend on potentially unreliable sources. Our current board and past boards have strongly positioned the Marquette Board of Light and Power. I feel a responsibility to give back to the community and with almost 40 years locally in the electrical construction industry, I believe I can offer the necessary support and guidance.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.