UP Energy Task Force to devise propane plan

July 8, 2019 By    

Michigan’s new administration is exploring alternatives to propane distribution through Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order creating a UP (Upper Peninsula) Energy Task Force. She says the 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.

Line 5 is a 65-year-old light crude oil and natural gas liquids pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac and serves as a key source of propane in the state and surrounding regions.

The governor says Line 5 “poses an unacceptable threat to The Great Lakes,” referring to a potential oil spill by anchor strike or other means. The task force was asked to submit a propane plan to the governor, identifying alternatives to meeting the UP’s current propane supply needs, by March 31, 2020. About 25 percent of UP residents use propane for home heating, according to the governor’s office, and much of that propane is delivered through the Line 5 pipeline.

Before he left office, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation creating a new authority to oversee the construction and operation of a tunnel under the Straits that would house a replacement segment for the pipeline. This seemed to address concerns at the time about the aging pipeline. The incoming administration, however, had already begun making threats to shut down the line completely.

“We are optimistic that the creation of the UP Energy Task Force is a sign that the administration recognizes that simply shutting down Line 5 may not be as simple as first expected,” says Derek Dalling, executive director of the Michigan Propane Gas Association (MPGA). “We’re also optimistic that it is a sign that the tunnel solution we helped pass as legislation late last year may still be on the table.”

Dalling says the task force chose MPGA recommendation Kristopher Bowman, president of Bowman Gas Co. in Gulliver, Michigan, and an MPGA past president, as a member.

*Featured image: iStock.com/JamesBRey

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at brichesson@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3748.

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