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What’s Next for Grand Haven’s Sustainable Energy Future?

In 2018, the GHBLP Board and City Council voted 4-0 and 5-0 respectively to direct the utility to develop a plan for local generation and a heat source for the city’s snowmelt system. After nearly three years — and over $1 million of studies, design, and development — support for the project on the Board and City Council, and within the community, has decreased. This was due in part to new findings of environmental contamination on the former JB Sims site, and more generally on Harbor Island.

As such, the GHBLP Board has cancelled redevelopment plans for a small combined heat and power (CHP) plant and adjacent Operations Center for the former JB Sims site. At its August meeting, the Board approved purchasing replacement capacity from the wholesale market to meet its resource adequacy requirements through May 31, 2028, and beginning a process to review moving the Operations and Technology Center spaces to an alternate site. We are thankful to customers and the City for a robust conversation that has created clarity and consensus around this new direction.

While our current plans exclude local generation and redevelopment of the Sims site, our values and goals remain the same: To provide reliable, affordable, sustainable power for our community. The revised direction for the JB Sims site does not substantially change the focus of the BLP to develop a diversified power supply portfolio (the CHP was anticipated to produce about 5% of the system’s annual energy needs). What is significant is that 100% of the system’s power supply will continue to be generated remotely with no plans for any local generating projects. Our local operations will focus on operating and maintaining our distribution system, with our power purchased through long and short-term arrangements from the Michigan Public Power Agency, a joint action agency of 22 Michigan municipally-owned electric utility members.    

To meet our strategic goals, GHBLP will complete the transition from a single-source, coal-fired power plant to a diversified power supply portfolio of capacity and energy purchases from a range of network resources to keep customer costs low and stable and power reliable. Likewise, investment in renewable energy sources will continue to be an integral part of GHBLP’s integrated power supply plan with more renewable options under consideration.

As for the former JB Sims site, we remain committed to collaborating with the City and EGLE officials on a holistic environmental strategy for cleanup in alignment with the GHBLP’s responsibility for coal combustion residuals present there.

We remain committed and look forward to building a vibrant, reliable, affordable and sustainable future for the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power together with our customers and the community as a whole. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us directly.


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Town Hall: Sims Site Environmental Update

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