MARQUETTE - Marquette Board of Light and Power primary candidate Dave Carlson, having served on the board previously, said the BLP has kept rates low and has won awards for clean emissions, but faces challenges in years ahead.
Carlson was elected to four terms on the BLP in the 1980s to 1990s, serving as chairman twice.
He was elected to two terms on the Marquette City Commission between 1995 and 2001, serving once as mayor pro-tem and was elected to four terms as treasurer of the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Having taught at Northern Michigan University for 33 years in the political science and public administration programs, including a course on energy and environmental politics, Carlson is retired. He is the secretary of the Peter White Public Library Board.
He said the most important issues facing the BLP are keeping utility rates and pollution levels down.
"The BLP is not perfect in many things, but it has been stellar in keeping rates much lower than other electric companies in Michigan, with high reliability (amazing given all our trees) and having won awards for super-clean smokestack emissions on the main generating unit No. 3," Carlson said. "Maintaining great service like this is the BLP's most important task.
"WE Energies has recently said it will close the Presque Isle power plant by 2020. That plant is old, facing governmental requirements to install very expensive emissions control equipment, which owners have mostly avoided for a long time.
"The costs are likely prohibitive. This poses a problem for the BLP because power has been exchanged back and forth when one has a system shut-down requiring major repair work, keeping power available for all.
"There is a big power line from Wisconsin to the U.P. designed to help utilities secure additional power, but if too many systems across the U.P. try to use it simultaneously, it will fail, taking all the systems down with it. So the BLP will need a revised emergency plan, possibly requiring more backup generation.
"Thanks to former Board Member Gail Griffith, Unit No. 3's smokestack emissions are cleaner than EPA requirements, except for new mercury standards. Modifications addressing mercury will get underway next year, utilizing available reserves. Marquette citizens have supported the BLP, and BLP employees have operated this entity with considerable care, so all of us can enjoy excellent electric service at below-average rates. I want this to continue."
Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.