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Community News

Wednesday, October 15, 2020, Grand Haven, MI – In alignment with the community-owned utility’s strategic plan for a diverse, sustainable energy supply, Grand Haven Board of Light & Power (GHBLP) directors have approved a conceptual master plan to redevelop the utility’s Harbor Island site. GHBLP staff can now proceed to more fully evaluate the financial and engineering viability of developing an Operations and Technology Center, including 12.5MW of combined heat and power generation on a portion of the former Sims site.

Although the JB Sims coal power plant is undergoing demolition, the Harbor Island site is still the location of critical distribution infrastructure including the utility’s primary connection to the grid, which currently supplies 100% of power to the community. As the existing transmission and distribution infrastructure on the site cannot be affordably relocated, the board is exploring integrating the existing infrastructure with an operations center as the most cost-effective approach. The operations center will house the technology and staff necessary to support the utility’s advanced distribution infrastructure and combined heat and power generation.

“A diverse portfolio of power supply sources including renewables, grid purchases, and locally-owned generation will ensure affordable, reliable power for the community,” said Gerald Witherell, vice-chairperson of the board. “The operations center and generation units we’re considering will help us leverage the best prices from the grid and protect our ratepayers from excessive wholesale market price during regional peak demand periods.”

The proposed natural gas reciprocating internal combustion engine (RICE) peaking units would account for about 15% of GHBLP’s state-mandated resource adequacy capacity requirements. The utility has already invested heavily in new renewable resources and is on track to meet 25% of its energy needs by 2022 with aggressive plans for continued growth. Ultimately, GHBLP plans to use the RICE generators during peak demand periods when it is more economical to produce power locally than to buy from the grid. Counsel from Power Engineers Collaborative and ProgressiveAE have also determined that a combined heat and power generation solution on Harbor Island near the downtown area would be the most economical source of heat for the city’s snowmelt system.

“The community has asked that our utility place a high value on fiscal and environmental responsibility,” said Jack Smant, chairperson of the board. “Our strategic transition from an organization focused on operating a single coal generating unit toward advanced distribution technologies and renewable energy resources aligns with our community values.”

During Thursday evening’s meeting, the Board also reviewed a report from Golder Associates, a leading environmental consulting firm, on the ecological status of the site and recommendations for remediation. GHBLP is exploring the best ways to restore as much of the site as possible to wetlands and reduce the utility’s total footprint after the demolition of Sims is complete.


Board of Light & Power Officials Tour Assembly Solar Project in Shiawassee County

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 – Grand Haven Board of Light & Power and City officials (David Walters, General Manager; Renee Molyneux, Administrative Services Manager; Erik Booth, Power Supply Manager; and Gerald Witherell, Board Vice-Chair; and Mayor Robert Monetza), along with Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA) officials and other MPPA members toured Ranger Power’s 239 MW Assembly Solar Project on September 2nd, located on 1,900 acres in Shiawassee County, Michigan. The Board of Light & Power has 20-year Purchase Power Commitments through the Michigan Public Power Agency for approximately 10 MWs of energy from this solar facility.

David Walters, BLP General Manager stated, “The Board of Light & Power is proud to participate in this project, which when fully operational will provide approximately 5% of our system’s annual energy requirements. One of the BLP’s Strategic Plan goals is to diversify its power supply portfolio, and this project, along with other solar, wind, and landfill gas commitments the BLP has already made will allow for almost 25% of our system’s energy needs to come from renewable resources by 2022.”

The first phase of the $250 million Assembly Solar Project, which is projected to be the largest in Michigan, is expected to be completed and online by the end of 2020. The two remaining phases are scheduled for completion by the end of 2021.

Electricity from the first two phases of the Ranger Power project will be sold to Michigan Public Power Agency to be used by its municipally-owned electric utilities, including Grand Haven Board of Light & Power, Holland and Zeeland Board of Public Works, Traverse City Light & Power, and the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Following the completion of the project, the Assembly Solar Project will generate enough power to supply energy for more than 35,000 homes in Michigan.

Ranger Power tour guides explained to the group they have 20-year lease agreements with landowners in the townships of Hazelton and Venice in Shiawassee County. At the end of these contracts, landowners and Ranger Power may either renegotiate for more time on the land or all equipment will be removed and land will be restored to its pre-project state.

The BLP provides electricity for approximately 14,500 customers in Grand Haven and the surrounding area.

2020 Wood Pole Inspection Program starting in September

Osmose Utilities Services, a contractor for Grand Haven Board of Light & Power, will be performing system-wide wood pole integrity inspections from September through December 2020.

The process involves hammering, drilling, and digging around poles. To complete the inspections, crews may need access to your property. Any Contractor working for GHBLP will be able to identify themselves.

Questions? Please contact GHBLP Customer Account Representatives at 616-846-6250 or

We appreciate your assistance with our wood pole inspection program.