MARQUETTE - Marquette Board of Light and Power primary candidate John Braamse said he believes the main issues facing the BLP in this election are continuing to provide affordable electricity, while minimizing pollution and promoting energy conservation.
Braamse said he was raised in Marquette and graduated from Marquette Senior High School in 1984. He retired from the Army after 25 years of service and returned home in 2012 with his wife and two children. A member of the Marquette County Democratic Party Executive Committee, he has a bachelor's degree in government, a master's in general administration and is pursuing a doctorate in public administration.
He said the most important issues facing the BLP are economic and environmental.
"I am committed to ensuring that the BLP always remains a public utility and I will not support any attempt to privatize the utility," Braamse said. "As a non-profit entity, the BLP is able to charge less for electricity than many other electrical utilities. The lower costs not being diverted to private stockholders or high-paid boards of directors allows more money to stay in the local economy rather than being diverted outside the Marquette area.
"The cost of future capital improvements will need to be addressed by ensuring the utility has enough revenue to cover operating costs. I support having smaller annual rate increases rather than delaying rate increases that balloon into larger spikes in prices after not raising rates for several years.
"We have one of the cleanest stacks in the nation, along with the renewable power generated by the Dead River hydro-power dams. I would like to keep our options open by exploring if cleaner-burning natural gas may be utilized in the future at the Shiras Steam plant when the current coal fired generator eventually needs to be replaced.
"Expanding the use of other renewable sources, such as solar panels, should also be explored to determine their feasibility and cost effectiveness.
"I would also expand the use of LED lighting to increase energy efficiency and reduce public electricity expenses."
Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.