Over the past decade, the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (BLP) has made significant impacts in optimizing energy usage, reducing energy waste, and improving the environmental sustainability of the community’s energy portfolio. Through partnerships with local businesses and residents, the utility has consistently exceeded sustainability and waste reduction goals year over year.
While sustainability initiatives like large-scale renewable developments consistently grab the attention of headlines, it’s helpful to also review how small incremental and intentional steps taken over time can add up to big impacts. Much like saving for retirement, the cumulative effect of consistent investing provides larger long-term returns.
Energy Optimization & Waste Reduction
The BLP contracts with Franklin Energy through the Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA) to provide programs that help customers cut down on energy consumption. These energy waste reductions (EWR) programs provide rebates to help with improvements in LED lighting and controls, HVAC, compressors, variable frequency drives, and other energy-efficient equipment. In addition to industrial and residential programs, the BLP is also working to replace inefficient streetlights with highly efficient LED lights which will save money for both BLP ratepayers and also city and township taxpayers.
Looking at just the past 10 years, the cumulative effect of EWR programs is now saving over 30,000,000 kilowatt hours per year. This equates to millions of dollars saved annually and significant environmentally sustainable results that the community can be proud of.
Growing Renewables While Diversifying
The BLP began incorporating renewable energy into its power supply portfolio with the introduction of landfill gas resources in 2010. While Michigan still considers landfill gas a renewable resource, the BLP has not increased levels of landfill gas production, opting instead for wind and solar projects. Production using landfill gas will be reduced beginning in 2026 and will be replaced with other renewable energy options.
The results of these progressive efforts have increased the BLP’s renewable energy from 9.4% of the total power supply portfolio in 2019 to 22% in 2022. New wind developments in Michigan have slowed down, however, solar developments continue to increase in quantity and efficiency. The BLP is currently collaborating with other municipal utilities on new solar developments that are anticipated to increase the renewable energy portfolio to 28% of BLP system requirements by 2025.
Emerging technologies will also play a pivotal role in Grand Haven’s energy future. The BLP Board of Directors recently approved participation in MPPA’s first energy storage project which is expected to go into commercial operation in 2025. Battery storage will be an important tool to help complement and support this growing renewable portfolio.
The diversification of the BLP’s power supply portfolio is essential to stabilize electric rates and mitigate future risks in an ever-changing energy market. Incorporating multiple resources (including renewables) into this mix is one way to ensure that the BLP is not reliant on any single source of power as it once was with the Sims Power Plant. This portfolio management strategy uses a balanced approach that includes renewable contracts, short and longer-term market purchases, emerging technologies, and continued energy optimization and waste reduction initiatives.
Get Involved in Sustainable Energy with BLP’s Green Energy Programs
For customers who desire to purchase more renewable energy than our system average, the BLP has created a Green Energy Program that allows each customer to buy renewable energy credits (RECS).
RECS is issued when one megawatt-hour of electricity is generated and delivered to the electrical grid from a certified renewable energy resource. Each credit is uniquely numbered, tracked, and regulated.
At a customer’s request, the BLP will buy RECS on their behalf and add them as additional renewable energy within our existing power purchase portfolio. This is a cost-effective way for individual customers to support renewable energy without having to make a large long-term investment in their homes or businesses like rooftop solar panels.
For a Grand Haven resident using an average of 650 kWh per month, purchasing 5 x 100 kWh additional blocks of renewable energy through our Green Energy Program (above the BLP’s 22% renewable portfolio) will only cost an additional $4 per month, and will have the effect of buying 100% renewable.
The BLP’s energy optimization and waste reduction program, its transition to a diversified power supply portfolio with increasing renewable energy investments, along with our voluntary Green Energy Program, have established the BLP as a leader in utility sustainability.
To guarantee continued success in these regards, the BLP relies on customer participation in these programs. To learn more about these environmentally sustainable programs, visit ghblp.org or contact your customer account representatives at (616) 846-6250.