Wolverine Power Cooperative (Wolverine) announced today a long-term wholesale power supply agreement with Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association (Ontonagon REA) to fully power the cooperative by 2021. The agreement complements Wolverine’s existing business in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
“Wolverine and its members are proud to supply cost-competitive power to another Michigan electric cooperative that shares our mission,” said Eric Baker, president and chief executive officer at Wolverine Power Cooperative. “This agreement adds value for our current members by sharing costs, and provides cost-savings for residents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”
Ontonagon REA serves approximately 5,000 members throughout portions of Houghton, Baraga, Keweenaw and Ontonagon Counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and currently receives power supply from two Wisconsin utilities. Wolverine will begin supplying some of Ontonagon REA’s power in 2019, and all power in 2021 as the previous power supply agreements expire.
“Our board of directors is certainly pleased with our new power supply agreement with Wolverine,” said Debbie Miles, Ontonagon REA General Manager. “Wolverine is not only a member-owned cooperative like we are, but—just as importantly—they are one of the state’s leading and most competitive wholesale power suppliers.”
Under the agreement, Ontonagon REA will significantly reduce its future power costs. These cost reductions may allow Ontonagon REA to consider future retail rate reductions and/or operational improvements such as increased tree trimming, reliability initiatives, or the addition of new personnel. The full impact of the agreement is expected to begin benefitting Ontonagon REA’s member-consumers when Wolverine supplies all power in 2021.
“This new partnership with Wolverine will result in more competitive retail rates for Ontonagon REA member-consumers,” said Miles. “In addition, this new partnership with Wolverine also enhances the electric cooperative footprint in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and we think that is good for the UP and its residents.”
Under the new agreement, Wolverine will also be responsible for ensuring Ontonagon REA meets Michigan’s 15 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2020. Wolverine and its members currently lead Michigan utilities with the highest percentage of new renewable energy, exceeding both present and anticipated state portfolio requirements. Since 2016, Wolverine and its members have added 150 MW of wind energy, built SpartanSolar—Northern Michigan’s largest solar array, created the state’s widest-ranging solar portfolio, and achieved a power supply portfolio that is 56 percent carbon-free.