More power to be generated locally

Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corporation map The new Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corporation has 40,000 customers in the Upper Peninsula.

L’ANSE — Parent company WEC Energy Group plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the Upper Peninsula to build two energy stations for its latest subsidiary, the Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corporation or UMERC.

A company representative told the Baraga County Board Monday about plans to spend $225 million to build natural gas-fueled energy-efficient, power-generating stations in Baraga and Negaunee to help UMERC meet its commitment to the state of Michigan to generate 170 megawatts of power by 2019.

“The location of the proposed power station would be in Baraga Township,” UMERC Spokesman Brian Manthey said. “The company is still working to acquire more property and designing transmission lines.”

“It would be in the general vicinity of our substation on highway (M-38) which is near Grist Mill Road,” Manthey said. “The exact location of the power station would be determined following our discussions with landowners in the area.”

In addition to the Baraga station, UMERC will build another facility near the Tilden Mine in Negaunee to serve local customers in southeastern Ontonagon County, and southern Houghton and Baraga counties, as well as serving all of Iron County and portions of several other Upper Peninsula counties.

“It’s beneficial to the whole U.P.,” Manthey said, adding customers will see no changes with their individual energy providers, subsidiaries of WEC.

“For customers, it’s a seamless transition,” he said, since customers will pay the same rates to the same providers with the same staff.

“Customers in the U.P. previously served by the Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation will be served by the newly-created UMERC,” said Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman Sally Talberg said last month. “The creation of the Michigan-based utility will enable some 35,000 electric and 5,000 gas customers in the Upper Peninsula to have access to affordable, reliable and safe energy.”

The gas customers are in southern Menominee County.

WEC has a majority stake in the American Transmission Co., which owns most of the electric transmission network in the region.

“In regarding to ATC, we do own 60 percent of the company but on matters requiring the vote of ATC owners, we would vote only 34 percent of our ownership shares,” Manthey said.