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Executive Order Creates U.P. Energy Task Force
Michigan Ag Connection - 06/10/2019

Governor Whitmer signed an executive order that creates the UP Energy Task Force. This task force will: assess the UP's overall energy needs and how they are currently being met; identify and evaluate potential changes in energy supply and distribution; and formulate alternative solutions to meet the UP's energy needs -- including alternatives to the current distribution of propane through Line 5, which poses an unacceptable threat to The Great Lakes.

"Our jobs, economy, and public health depend on the preservation of The Great Lakes, which literally define us as a state," said Whitmer. "Enbridge has a disappointing safety record in Michigan, and the dual pipelines that run through the Straits of Mackinac create an unacceptable risk of an oil spill by anchor strike or other means. Such an event would be catastrophic for The Great Lakes and our economy, and would send energy costs skyrocketing for UP families. This task force will help make recommendations that ensure the UP's energy needs are met in a manner that is reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound."

UP residents are currently incurring some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. Implementing real energy solutions will begin to rein in these high rates and provide relief to hardworking UP residents.

Moreover, about 25 percent of UP residents use propane for home heating, and much of that propane is delivered through the Line 5 pipeline. The future of Line 5, however, is uncertain. As a report this week from the National Transportation Safety Board made abundantly clear, only by happenstance did Michigan avoid a catastrophic oil spill in The Great Lakes just last year, when a 12,000 pound anchor inadvertently dragged across the bottomlands of the Straits of Mackinac struck Line 5. The unacceptable threat posed by the continued operation of the pipelines through the Straits, as well as the lack of an established back-up propane distribution system were Line 5 to malfunction, make developing alternative solutions a priority.

Executive Order 2019-14 establishes the UP Energy Task Force which will address the significant energy challenges that UP residents are facing. This task force will look for alternative, long-term solutions to rein in UP energy rates in regions facing the highest costs and identify alternatives to meeting the UP's current propane-supply needs. The UP Energy Task Force will:

- Be an advisory body to the governor within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

- Consist of at least 13 voting members appointed by the governor, all of whom must be Michigan residents and possess relevant expertise.

- Formulate solutions for meeting the UP's energy needs, with a focus on security, reliability, affordability, and environmental soundness.

- Complete a final report in two stages. First, by submitting a propane plan to the governor by March 31, 2020, which will focus on alternative means to supply propane in the event of a Line 5 shut down. Second, by submitting the remainder of its report by March 31, 2021.

Attorney General Dana Nessel made the following comment in support of Whitmer's Executive Order:

"I commend Gov. Whitmer for taking a proactive approach to ensuring our U.P. residents have a long-term solution that reins in the exorbitant energy costs they face each day. Enbridge has made clear its primary focus is its bottom line. And while the Governor and I work in tandem to decommission Line 5 as quickly as possible to protect our Great Lakes and the health and safety of our residents, her task force is a necessary step to ensure we meet the energy needs of all our state's residents for generations to come."

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