MARQUETTE - Marquette Board of Light and Power primary candidate Jerry Irby said he hopes to support business and revenue-growth, as well as alternative forms of energy, if elected.
Irby said he is a Vietnam-era veteran, having served four years in the U.S. Air Force, and that the concept of service has been a part of him. He served on the Marquette City Commission, as well.
"Recently, my service has been to our senior population (since) being appointed to the State of Michigan Services to the Aging Commission and more recently, on our (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) and County Aging Service Board," Irby said.
He said the most important issues at the BLP include looking to alternate energy sources like natural gas, increasing revenue and supporting business growth.
"Since Unit No. 3 at the Shiras Plant was brought on line in 1983, the growth of customers and businesses has increased 320 percent," Irby said. "The plan for upgrading to the future has to take place. Due to the fact that future rate increases will be based largely (on) fuel costs, should our system be looking for other energy sources, such as natural gas?
"The BLP is a Marquette city-owned utility serving over 16,000 businesses and residents. It pays the city of Marquette over $2 million in (payment in lieu of taxes). If elected, I will work with the board to protect that connection and grow the income stream.
"Green energy is in our future with solar, wind, hydro, etc. Solar panels on nonprofit buildings have been brought to my attention, and I would ask the board to encourage using (them). The Hydro Power Plant at Tourist Park is back on line. Wind power is very expensive to bring on line; where would you place it?
"There should be a regional power plan developed by answering the following questions. What would the effect of the loss of the Presque Isle Power Plant have on our network and power grid? How would we be able to support business growth that provides jobs? I believe it is imperative to have experience and know-how to bring local, regional and state resources together; I bring that experience. We need to be proactive, not reactive, to the challenges that affect our BLP."
Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.