Cloverland’s SSR Payments have been reduced from $24 million to $4 million.

The battle Cloverland Electric Cooperative is leading to make sure U.P. residents get a fair energy deal is making great strides- but concerns still remain on the bargaining table.

Cloverland members don’t receive any electricity from the Presque Isle Power Plant (PIPP), but are being expected to pay millions to keep the plant in operation. Representatives from the Co-op and other eastern U.P. businesses held a media roundtable on Feb. 17 to raise awareness about this unfair financial burden. Since then, the Plant’s owner, We Energies, has asked the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) to stop these System Support Resource (SSR) payments, dating back to Feb. 1. This brings the original $24 million SSR figure Cloverland was saddled with down to $4.6 million.

“This is great news for the eastern U.P., and we would like to thank everyone who has stepped in to help provide a long-term solution for reliable energy in the U.P. – especially Gov. Snyder and Sen. Casperson for facilitating negotiations and Cliffs Natural Resources for being a great corporate citizen,” said Cloverland CEO, Dan Dasho.

On Feb. 19, the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC) directed MISO to conduct a study to determine exactly who benefits from the operation of PIPP and re-evaluate how the SSR payments should be assigned. For now, the remaining $4.6 million in payments Cloverland was responsible for is under review. Cloverland has successfully escaped a big immediate hike in their member’s energy bills, but the long-term impact is still up in the air.

“I want to see the SSR payments that Cloverland is facing taken away,” Dasho said. “We are going to fight that battle continuously, and we hope that somebody would recognize that it is a small piece that could be resolved for our customers.”

“Our folks up in the eastern U.P. are in an area of high unemployment, low wages and they cannot take this kind of hit,” Dasho said. We need a good solution that connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas and improves our infrastructure, he added. “Allow us to access power in the Lower Peninsula, which we cannot do today.”

Photo: U.P. representatives at the roundtable included Dan Dasho, Linda Hoath, director of the Sault Ste. Marie Convention & Visitors Bureau; Ken Greenwood, War Memorial Hospital; Ken Hayward, Grand Hotel executive vice president; Jon Johnson, Manistique Papers (by phone); and John Wornette, Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians.