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The Distribution System

Blog Post – The Distribution System

Increasing Capacity and Reliability

Without regular system upgrades, our community would not have the electrical capacity to accomplish basic tasks that we take for granted, like running modern appliances and HVAC systems. The average American home in 2021 differs vastly from the average American home in 1960. Continually updating GHBLP’s electrical system infrastructure to meet increased electrical demand allows Grand Haven to enjoy reliable and affordable power.

Getting Power to Your Home

Moving generated electricity from a power plant or from the grid to your home may involve more steps than you think. A vast infrastructure of electrical wires, poles, substations, and transformers work together to ensure reliable power for the Grand Haven Area.

With the demolition of the Sims plant, all of Grand Haven’s power currently begins with our connection to the regional transmission network (aka “the grid”). After passing through transmission lines to reach our substations, the voltage is reduced via substation transformers to supply three phase, high-voltage, alternating current (AC) which flows throughout our distribution system. The power is further reduced by distribution transformers to 120V or 240V AC for most small businesses or homes (“secondary customers”). Some larger industries (“primary customers”) use higher voltages, customized to their specific needs.

System Maintenance

In Grand Haven, over 13 miles of transmission lines and 178 miles of distribution lines bring electricity to residences and businesses. As our community has consumed more energy over the years, we have increased our system’s capacity. Over the last few years, we replaced the transmission lines to increase our system capacity by more than 300%, allowing the system to handle a larger load at any given time.

Other recent system maintenance included an inspection of over 8,000 electrical poles, noting which should be included in future upgrades. GHBLP also recently consolidated three substations into one on the Harbor Island site. Replacing the old substations, originally installed in the early 1960’s, allowed us to upgrade system equipment and technology, increase capacity and greatly reduce the substation’s footprint.

Preparing for the Future

Beyond regular maintenance and upgrades, the Harbor Island system design also prepares for future technological advances, such as battery or hydrogen fuel cell storage. This future preparation allows the distribution system to stay flexible in its capacity to handle technologies that may require greater system capacity, such as the widespread adoption of at-home electric vehicle charging.

GHBLP customers/owners rely on a robust and solid distribution system to support their electrical needs. With these ongoing capital improvements, GHBLP staff can easily schedule maintenance work, preventing unplanned outages that result in overtime and save labor and infrastructure costs that could otherwise add up. Regular maintenance ensures that Grand Haven residences and businesses can count on GHBLP to keep their power affordable and reliable for years to come.


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