Casperson’s game-changing bill connects Upper, Lower Peninsulas to same electrical grid

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas could soon share the same electrical grid if legislation submitted on Thursday by state Sen. Tom Casperson becomes law.

Senate Bill 282 addresses a growing concern that, with only one major power plant, most U.P. residents rely on electricity sourced from outside the state.

“It is hard to believe — and unacceptable — that in 2015, residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula primarily rely on another state for electricity,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “If we, as one state, want to establish a more independent energy future that is by Michigan and for Michigan, then it only makes sense that our peninsulas be connected by more than just a bridge. In that spirit, just as the state came together to build the Mackinac Bridge, it is time for the state to come together to bridge this energy divide.”

The bill would allow for construction of electric infrastructure to connect the peninsulas to the same electric grid, enabling transmission from one to the other. Beyond integration, this move would ensure affordable and reliable electricity for not only all Michiganders, but especially for the U.P, as well as establish a more unified and independent energy future.

Under the bill, the governor would appoint a state board to select, through a bidding process, a developer to construct a project that meets the policy goals of the legislation. The siting of the project would need to be approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission and undergo analysis by Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization. Project costs would be shared among all Michigan ratepayers within MISO.

“Michiganders are incredibly generous people,” Casperson said. “Just as we all came together to help the city of Detroit in recent years, the Upper Peninsula needs a similar effort. As with Detroit, the state of Michigan cannot reach its full potential without a healthy and prosperous U.P. — one that provides families, small business and industry with affordable and reliable energy so we can all grow and prosper.”

SB 282 is expected to be formally introduced Tuesday, April 21, and will likely be referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Technology.