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Study on future electrical use a good idea

Gov. Rick Snyder’s call last week for a comprehensive study on the potential benefits of connecting the Eastern Upper Peninsula electric grid to that of the Lower Peninsula, and Ontario, Canada, makes a lot of sense, given the relative volatile nature of energy prices going forward and the continuing evolution away from coal-fired generating facilities.

Specifically, Snyder asked the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, commonly known as MISO, to undertake the work. MISO oversees the electric grid in the Upper Midwest and part of Canada.

This isn’t the first call for such a study from Snyder. Four years ago, he made a similar request to MISO, which completed the work but did not include Canada.

Canada was included in the most recent request, however, because generating capabilities in Ontario have changed and are continuing to change.

“Since Michigan has some of the highest prices for transmission in the MISO footprint, it makes sense to ask whether, in the long term, we can all spend less while increasing reliability by strengthening our ties to each other and our neighbors,” Snyder said in a widely distributed press release.

Given the overwhelming importance of reliable electrical service, Snyder’s request was spot on. The old coal-fired facility at Presque Isle will shutter in 2020.

At least two and perhaps three new, natural gas-fired facilities will fill the lost capacity. In other words, a lot is up in the air.

We look forward to the new MISO report.

Mining Journal (Marquette)