To the editor:
Is the Sale of UPPCO Really In the Best Interest of Its Customers?
A few months ago I read about the sale of UPPCO to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners, a foreign infrastructure investment firm.
My gut feeling was this sale would be bad for the electric rate payers of UPPCO, and as an electric heat customer I am very concerned about electric rates and system reliability. I have since not read anything that has changed my gut feelings about this sale.
The Michigan Public Service Commission has to approve this sale and I want to direct readers to their web site where you can read all about the proposed sale.
The MPSC case number is U-17564 and on the web, efile.mpsc.state.mi.us/efile/ will bring you directly to all the information on this sale.
When you get to the web site put 17564 in the box that says search by Case #. Here you will find all the documents filed with the MPSC with the latest on top. The very first document on the bottom of the page describes the sale in detail.
If this sale goes through UPPCO will become a company that is managed by a foreign company located in Europe. I question if they will really care about the folks of the U.P. The new UPPCO will not be anything like the old UPPCO.
The old UPPCO had a mostly local Board of Directors and much of the company's stock was owned locally and by employees. Now all the top decisions will be made in a foreign land.
The huge expense that will be incurred to make UPPCO an independent company again concerns me. So many departments were relocated, and all the expertise will be gone. Some departments are easy to bring back like payroll, but engineering is a different story.
Balfour Beatty admits this will be their first electric utility in North America. Their expertise is in foreign voltages and 50 hertz systems. They admit they don't know how much it will cost to make UPPCO an independent company again. They say jobs will come back to Michigan, but nowhere have I read that these jobs will be located in the Upper Peninsula.
UPPCO's interest in the American Transmission Company is not going to be a part of the sale, and this really concerns me. I urge the MPSC to do what is best for UPPCO's rate payers.