Pipeline keeps propane flowing

Anyone from the Upper Peninsula will tell you how frigid the winters in northern Michigan can be, and these cold temperatures require an abundance of inexpensive fuel to keep homes and businesses heated. Residents and businesses depend on Michigan’s supply of propane to live. Locally-owned propane companies like mine make sure that both residential and industrial consumers across the state have the critical propane they need to operate. My wife and I, and our staff, are focused on providing cost-effective service to our customers, which is why I’ve become increasingly concerned about the misperceptions of Enbridge Line 5. Recently, there have been calls to close Line 5, which supplies 65 percent of propane demand in the Upper Peninsula, and 55 percent of Michigan’s statewide propane needs. Shutting down Line 5 would have consequences for residents, businesses, and the Michigan economy.

Michigan is the largest propane-consuming state in the country and Line 5 has been safely delivering propane across Michigan for over 60 years. Line 5 was so well engineered at the Mackinac Straits crossing it has never experienced a leak. Closing Line 5 would disrupt the critical flow of propane across the state of Michigan and beyond. Michiganders would face price fluctuations as millions of gallons in propane deliveries per day would be interrupted. As an example, when Line 5 was closed for only two days earlier this year, the price of propane in the Upper Peninsula increased by more than $1 per gallon. Areas of the state most dependent on propane for home heating during frigid Michigan winters could face price increases of more than $80 million per year without Line 5.

If Line 5 was prematurely shut down, the propane demand would need to be replaced by rail or truck transportation, a much riskier and more expensive option. Propane when mixed with air can be flammable, meaning any accidents involving rail or trucks are more likely to catch fire than sealed and transported in an underground pipeline. Increasing rail and road traffic to replace Line 5 is an unrealistic option that will be less safe for Michigan residents. Simply put, no current alternative options as practical and safe as line 5.

Our leaders in Lansing should remember the hundreds of thousands of Michigan people and businesses that rely on this critical resource. Shutting down Line 5 will hurt our economy, with little to no environmental impact.

At the end of this month Gov. Snyder will be presented with a plan to keep the line open. Given the importance of propane to Michigan, I trust the governor will keep the line running and allow us to continue providers our customers across Michigan’s U.P. with affordable energy.