Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 26, 2010

Petitions on biomass and TCL&P are in

TRAVERSE CITY — Organizers collected an estimated 2,000 petition signatures for two ballot questions that would let voters turn Traverse City Light & Power's board of directors into an advisory body and give residents a direct vote on any future power plant ownership.

Petition circulators need 566 signatures for each of the referendum questions and handed over 200 pages of petitions Friday afternoon to the Traverse City Clerk's office.

Signatures have not yet been certified, said Benjamin Marentette, deputy city clerk. Once certified, petition language will have to pass legal review by both the city attorney and state attorney general's office before it goes on the November election ballot.

"It was a shame that it had to come this far, but we've seen how Light & Power operates, and I wasn't willing to cut them any slack at all," said Margaret Dodd, a former mayor who helped organize the petition drive.

One petition puts the city-owned utility under the city commission's direct control and strips the current appointed board of directors of decision-making authority. The other petition would require voter approval before the city could own or construct any type of power-generating facility, from a windmill farm to natural gas or biomass-fueled power plants.

"My intent was that it trigger a vote the same way any modification to city parkland triggers a vote," Dodd said.

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