The Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (GHBLP) has approved an FY2022 budget and 5-year capital improvement plan that includes redevelopment plans for Harbor Island and an overall rate reduction.
“In alignment with our new strategic plan, this is a solid budget that will get us kicked off for redevelopment at Harbor Island and fund other critical improvements across our service area,” said Gerald Witherell, vice-chairperson for the board.
The approved budget anticipates the passage of a revenue bond proposal to fund work that has already been completed at Harbor Island including demolition, environmental remediation, and substation upgrades. With the bond, the BLP will also begin final coal ash remediation and construction of an Operations and Technical Center including a 12.5MW combined heat and power peaking plant.
“The Harbor Island plan and the Combined Heat and Power plant included in the capital plan represent the most economical choice available to Grand Haven,” said Erik Booth, Manager of Operations and Power Supply. “By purchasing most of our power from the grid and locally generating some of our own power in times when market prices are highest, we will enable higher levels of intermittent renewable energy purchases and avoid higher-cost energy purchases when these resources are not producing.”
The new budget also reflects updates to GHBLP’s rate structure, which the utility has designed to cover the costs of production and distribution service. The utility commissioned independent rate consultants to conduct a cost-of-service study and provide rate change recommendations.
The approved rate reduction reduces overall retail charges to all customer classes per KWh by about 0.8%. Overall residential charges will remain unchanged, however, about 60% of residential customers will experience a slight increase in their average monthly bills, and about 40% of customers will experience a slightly larger decrease in their monthly bills depending on how they use their power consistent with the BLP’s cost of service determinations. Commercial and industrial customers will see an overall reduction in charges of about 1.2% in total, but some will see modest increases and others will see larger decreases. GHBLP represents one of only a few utilities providing reduced or stable rates for customers as neighboring investor-owned Michigan utilities such as Consumers and DTE are proposing increases of about 11% in the next year, on top of those rate increases recently approved.
During its May 13 work-study, the Board recommended increasing the proposed $4 monthly discount for senior citizens to $5 per month and adjusting even further UFS recommendations on some commercial and industrial fixed charges to move them closer to their true cost of service determinations within the independent study. Neither of these adjustments were included in the original UFS rate change recommendations that projected a 1.3% overall reduction.
The GHBLP provides electricity for approximately 14,800 customers in Grand Haven and the surrounding area.