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Last of Sims Power Plant Coal Inventory Nearly Gone


Wednesday, February 12, 2020, Grand Haven – The Board of Light & Power’s J.B. Sims Generating Station on Harbor Island is burning through its final pile of coal today and expects to cease plant operations sometime early Thursday, February 13, 2020. The BLP is successfully progressing through its Strategic Plan objective to transition from primarily one fuel source to a more sustainable, economical, and diversified power supply portfolio for the community.

“The Board approved ceasing operations of the Sims Power Plant on June 1, 2020, at its April 2018 meeting and City Council ratified this decision at their November 2018 meeting. Transition efforts to move the utility to a diversified power supply portfolio began and the Board has now successfully burned through approximately $6.8 million dollars of coal inventory that was on its dock in late 2018. This achievement could not have happened without the dedicated efforts of the many Sims employees, who have been working short-staffed over the last several months due to reductions in its workforce created through attrition,” stated David Walters, General Manager.

“This achievement is a win for our community,” stated Gerald Witherell, Board of Light & Power Vice-Chair. “We set a goal to shut the plant down after we have burned through all inventory to ensure the utility would not sustain further financial losses. Plant employees should be commended for their efforts to continue running a power plant that has reached the end of its useful life.”

Following the shutdown, the BLP will purchase 100% of its power supply through the Michigan Public Power Agency, as it has done for many years during planned and forced outages. MPPA has already secured lower-cost power supply commitments on Grand Haven’s behalf for the next year. BLP staff is also in the process of evaluating longer-term options and the
installation of smaller backup natural gas-fired generation on Harbor Island that may make economic sense to supplement and complement purchases from MPPA.

The BLP awarded the Sims demolition contract to low bid Bierlein Companies, Inc. in the amount of $5,053,333 at its December 2019 meeting. Decommissioning efforts will begin following the plant shutdown with demolition and site remediation efforts to begin in earnest beginning June 1, 2020.

Grand Haven’s snowmelt system heat will be supplied by the plant’s auxiliary boiler for the remaining portion of this winter. A longer-term snow melt solution was presented to the Board at yesterday afternoon’s work session for consideration at its February 20, 2020, regular Board meeting.

The Board of Light and Power produces and distributes electricity for approximately 14,500 customers in Grand Haven and the surrounding area. Grand Haven Board of Light & Power. Providing quality, local electric service since 1896.


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