News & Information

WZZM – Grand Haven BLP shares plans for former Sims Plant site on Harbor Island

The Board of Light and Power plans to build a power generation center and to create wetlands for public use.

WZZM – GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The Grand Haven Board of Light and Power and the Grand Rapids-based ProgressiveAE architecture firm have unveiled plans for Harbor Island after the old JB Sims Generating Station was demolished. The Board of Light and Power now owns the property and is cleaning up what was left behind from the Sims plant demolition.

A virtual community meeting was held Tuesday evening to inform community members about plans for the future of the site and to answer questions.

After remediation, a new operations and technology facility will be built to generate heat and power. It will also be home to the city’s snowmelt operations, which was previously powered by the Sims plant.

The project would consist of five reciprocating internal combustion engines with five natural gas-fired hot water boilers. The building will be made out of industrial materials, incorporating sustainable technologies like solar panels. John Eberly from ProgressiveAE said the building will be LEED compliant.

The site will also be repurposed to include wetlands and space that community members can enjoy.

The facility will produce less power than what the city needs and the majority of the city’s power needs will come from the grid, using resources from outside of the city. However, project leaders say the facility will protect the community from wholesale energy price spikes during “peak summer load conditions.”

The plant is scheduled to begin operations in 2023.

Tuesday’s meeting was the last in a set of three informational community meetings the Board of Light and Power hosted on the issue.

Anyone with questions about the facility who did not have the chance to attend the meetings can contact the Board of Light and Power or visit their FAQ page.



Tuesday, February 23, 2021, Grand Haven, MI – On the heels of Grand Haven’s coal-fired power plant demolition, the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power (GHBLP) has shared designs for redevelopment at the site, including future Operations and Technical Center with combined heat and power (CHP) generation. At a virtual meeting on Tuesday night, GHBLP staff and Progressive AE, the design firm was chosen for the project, shared renders of the redeveloped site, and answered questions from the community.

“The landscape of Harbor Island will look remarkably different with this sustainable, new vision,” said Gerald Witherell, vice-chairperson of the board. “Our customer-owners are our greatest priority, and this design places our community values of reliability, affordability, and environmental responsibility at the forefront.”

GHBLP’s plans for an Operations and Technology Center will take advantage of the regional transmission network connections that connect to the Harbor Island site as well as the proximity to downtown to provide heat for the snowmelt system. Also on site will be the recently updated downtown substation and a dedicated space for future new technologies including advanced energy storage and a community-owned solar project.

About half of GHBLP’s property will be restored to wetlands and turned over to the community. Current renderings show the potential for an expansion of Linear Park with greater public-access to natural areas and the Grand River waterfront.

“The new Operations and Technology Center represents a more sustainable and complementary architecture to the natural area,” said David Shull, principal, industrial practice leader at Progressive AE. “The design is also flexible, and while a portion of it is dedicated to combined heat and power engines now, it can also be used for emerging technologies in the future.”

In alignment with professional recommendations and several years of planning, the Board approved the master plans for the site in October 2020 and approved Progressive AE as the design and engineering firm in November 2020. GHBLP plans to fund the redevelopment project through municipal bonds at an attractive interest rate. GHBLP lowered customer electric rates by 6% over 2016-2017 and has committed to maintaining rates constant throughout this transition, and these current rates are adequate to cover expected annual debt service and fund the expected 5-year capital plan the BLP currently has in place.

“This is an excellent solution that will secure affordable, reliable power for customers while enabling us to confidently continue growing our renewable energy portfolio,” said David Walters, GHBLP General Manager.

The meeting was the final in a series of three community events hosted by GHBLP. A recording of the meeting will be posted on the BLP’s website by Thursday, 2/25.

GHBLP has posted further event details and other news on a dedicated website, which the utility launched in December for community engagement and feedback on current power planning activities. Visit to learn more.

The BLP provides electricity for approximately 14,800 customers in Grand Haven and the surrounding area.

Harbor Island System Design – A Free Virtual Event

System Design:  A system that works for Grand Haven residents & our snowmelt system

Date: Tuesday, 2/23/21
Time: 7:00 PM

Overview Topic

Grand Haven Board of Light and Power’s (GHBLP) plans for an operations and technology center, including combined heat and power generation, at the Harbor Island site are strategic and cost-effective, taking advantage of existing distribution infrastructure and proximity to downtown for snowmelt. GHBLP is dedicated to making sure this is a resource that serves all of Grand Haven including businesses, residents, the downtown district, and visitors alike.

At this community meeting, GHBLP and ProgressiveAE will share design plans for the redeveloped site with the community for feedback. We’ll also answer questions about the design approach and aesthetic improvements to the downtown waterfront. The session will conclude with a Q&A session with the presenters.

Key Points Covered

  • Why do we have to keep this location for power?
  • How will the new design compliment the waterfront?
  • What does this mean for Snowmelt?
  • What is GHBLP doing to make sure the building is what the community wants?


David Walters & ProgressiveAE

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BLP Energy – Outstanding Service at a Great Price

BLP Energy – Outstanding Service at a Great Price – Blog Post by Erik Booth, Operations & Supply Manager

Grand Haven is extremely fortunate to own and operate a municipal electric system. The service response times are fast, the system is very reliable, and is improving as new investments are made into system components and technology.  The utility employees are hometown people who treat their customers like the friends and family that they are. What sometimes gets overlooked, however, is how much more competitive and affordable the cost of electricity is from a municipally-owned electric utility like the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (BLP) as opposed to a privately owned electric utility supplier. Read More


Open Transparent Operations

Transparency & the Role of a Community-Owned Utility – Blog Post was written by Renee Molyneux, Administrative Services Manager

One of the things I value most about working for the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power is the high priority we place on openness and transparency in how we conduct our business. In fact, as one of 2,000 public power utilities across the nation, we are required to operate with the highest level of integrity and inclusion of our community and valued customers. This shapes the way we approach strategy differently from what you might expect from an investor-owned utility (Consumers or DTE, for example). There are several benefits to our community members as owners of this public utility that it is important to be aware of: Read more

Just released the 2021 Commercial & Industrial Brochure

The GHBLP’S Energy Smart Program makes it easy and more affordable for Commercial & Industrial businesses to reduce energy consumption and overall electric charges. The Energy Smart Program provides rebates for qualifying prescriptive and custom energy-saving updates. Whether you run a restaurant, small shop, retail store, or large industrial business, the BLP can help you gain a competitive advantage through energy-efficient improvements.

Pictured below left to right, Rick Peterson, Master Electrician, and Kristopher Krepps, Maintenance Manager for Magna Mirror North America accepting the Energy-Efficiency rebate check.

Read how Engine Power Components, Grand Haven/Spring Lake Sewer Authority, Magna Mirrors North America, and Cooper Standard earned big rebates for their energy efficient projects through GHBLP’s Energy Smart Program.

Commercial & Industrial Energy Waste Reduction Brochure

Environmental Clean Up at Harbor Island – Free Virtual Event

Environmental Clean-Up: The conditions and opportunities of Harbor Island

Date: Tuesday, 2/9/21
Time: 7:00 PM

Topic Overview

In preparation for the 2018 decision to schedule J.B. Sims for closure, Grand Haven Board of Light and Power hired Golder Associates, a nationally recognized environmental engineering firm, to evaluate and recommend the appropriate closure of the coal ash handling impoundments along with other associated environmental issues that may arise in the demolition of the plant and the necessary remediation of the Sims site. Golder has extensive experience with environmental remediation and mitigation projects in Michigan and across the nation, including many coal-fired facilities much larger than Sims.

The approach to environmental remediation at the former Sims site is complicated by a history of mixed uses on the island. This community engagement event will create an opportunity to understand the many factors involved at the site and get answers about the recommended remediation strategy. The presentation will conclude with a Q&A session with the presenters.

Key Points Covered

  • What is the history of Harbor island?
  • What research has been done on the environmental impacts?
  • What is a mixing zone?
  • Why not completely remediate GHBLP’s site?
  • What risks are associated with remediation?
  • What is the recommended plan going forward?


Erik Booth, Grand Haven Board of Light and Power
Tiffany Johnson, Dawn Prell, and Carolyn Powrozek, Golder Associates

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