Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (GHBLP) is celebrating 125 Years of Service to the greater Grand Haven community on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, with a community open house from 5-7 PM at their Service Center, 1700 Eaton Drive, hosting live music, free refreshments, and fun giveaways.
Grand Haven’s electric utility was created on September 29, 1896, when citizens voted to approve a $10,000 bond issue for its first municipal electrical generator. The first “power plant” was a 150hp steam engine belted to a 100-light, 1200 candlepower constant arc dynamo (direct current generator), and a 75kW alternating current dynamo. The total cost was $9,985.85.
Since that time, GHBLP has grown to serve nearly 14,800 customers in the greater Grand Haven area. The utility has many successes to celebrate, especially those achieved over the last 5 years. Most notable was the retirement and demolition of the historic JB Sims 70MW coal-fired plant, a pivotal transition from reliance on local, fossil-fuel generation to a reliance on a diverse power supply portfolio and advanced distribution. Prior to this milestone in 2020 was a series of important replacements to the aging transmission system that enabled upgraded, high-reliability service from regional power suppliers, from which the community now receives 100% of its power.
Now entering a very new chapter in the history of GHBLP, the utility is invested strongly in renewables and advanced technology. In five years, GHBLP has made substantial increases in renewable energy investments, tripling its 2016 amounts and exceeding state-mandated requirements, through long-term wind and solar Purchase Power Agreements with Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA). In addition, the utility has installed advanced meters at all customer locations, modernizing our existing electrical distribution system to meet increased demands for energy efficiency, insight into cost-reduction strategies, and increased use of renewable energy. Distribution and service improvements earned GHBLP the Platinum RP3 designation, the highest recognition in safety and reliability from the American Public Power Association, earlier this year.
“In this 125th year, we are moving from a ‘generation-centric’ electric utility to a ‘distribution centric electric utility,” stated David Walters, GHBLP General Manager. “Regardless of where the power comes from, we will continue to faithfully serve our community with access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable electric service for many, many years to come,” Walters added.
Established in 1896, the Board of Light & Power serves 14,800 customers in the greater Grand Haven area.