July 28, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2021
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278
Michigan PFAS Action Response Team to update Grand Haven residents on JB Sims PFAS investigation
The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) will update residents near JB Sims Generating Station on its investigation of PFAS contamination at the Generating Station on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.
MPART representatives from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) along with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health will host the virtual community meeting on July 28, 2021, from 6:00 – 7:30 pm.
The meeting is planned as an online event, rather than an in-person meeting.
To register for and participate in the online meeting, visit the registration website https://bit.ly/36KLmW0. Pre-registration and providing a name is not required to attend the meeting. Those interested in participating can go to the registration website at the start of the meeting (6:00 pm) to join.
Individuals without internet access can listen to the meeting by calling 636-651-3142 and entering the conference code, 374288.
After the presentations, there will be an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.
Within a few days of the meeting, a page for the JB Sims Generation Station will be made available within Michigan.gov/PFASResponse. The page will include the meeting materials and a recording of the meeting.
For questions about the JB Sims Generating Station investigation, contact Kent Walters, EGLE, at email@example.com or call him at 616-278-4350. For questions related to PFAS and health, contact Lisa Fischer, MDHHS at FischerL@michigan.gov or call her at 517-331-2523 or 800-648-6942.
EGLE does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, national origin, color, marital status, disability, political beliefs, height, weight, genetic information, or sexual orientation in the administration of any of its programs or activities and prohibits intimidation and retaliation, as required by applicable laws and regulations.
Michigan PFAS Action Response
July 23, 2021
Blog Post; Economic Benefits of the Proposed CHP
Comprising about $18 million of the $45 million bond proposal, the Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP or “peaking plant”) will provide critical local control to manage uncertainty in future power prices and enable MORE renewable energy purchases for Grand Haven.
Energy vs. Capacity
To understand the value of a peaking plant, it’s important to first understand the difference between “energy” and “capacity” when talking about the power industry. “Energy,” measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), refers to actual power consumed by our community in running our businesses, homes, and streetlights. Just as you pay for your own “energy” usage, GHBLP also must pay for “energy” that we purchase from power suppliers across the region.
Now “Capacity,” which is often measured in kilowatts (kW), refers to the rated ability of a power plant (or renewable resource) to produce that energy. The State of Michigan requires every utility to have enough “capacity” to serve its community’s peak demands, plus a reserve margin above that peak, even if the actual hour-by-hour demand for energy is lower most of the time.
The proposed combined heat and power peaking plant provides our community with tremendous value for both “energy” and “capacity.” As a peaking plant, the plant will only run when our cost for “energy” from the market is very high and it’s more economical to produce power ourselves. This happens during the summer when air conditioning use is high on hot days or in the winter during an extreme weather event. In either case, the plant can save our community hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a week of use.
It is important to note that the energy produced at the plant will never displace the renewable energy we are buying when it is available. The plant will supplement and complement these renewable purchases in a more diversified portfolio, primarily when there is not enough “energy” coming from these other resources (when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing adequately to meet our load at that time).
The proposed plant will also function as a longer-term investment in the “capacity” market. As Michigan continues to shutter its coal plants, renewable resources are expanding, but renewables only receive partial credit for their rated output of “capacity” based on their demonstrated availability during past peak periods. By investing in our own capacity, we can avoid the cost of future “capacity” that is forecasted to keep increasing and these forecasts contain more uncertainty. We can also protect our community from such uncertainty and potential higher “capacity” cost by paying the embedded cost of the new facility. What’s more, by owning a portion of our “capacity” requirements locally, we can actually invest MORE in renewable resources because we’re hedged against their more intermittent, less predictable energy output.
The Future of Natural Gas
Henry Hub Natural Gas futures provide a price for natural gas for up to 10 years out. The market futures price takes into account the decreasing cost and increasing availability of renewable resources and a host of other regulatory and political pressures. Looking a full 10 years out, the futures price of natural gas remains very stable. This long-term stability and the intermittent vulnerability of wind and solar supports the utility’s decision to move forward with a natural gas peaking resource to supplement and complement GHBLP’s diversified power supply portfolio.
Working with multiple nationally recognized agencies such as Burns & McDonnell and ProgressiveAE, the BLP has conducted multiple economic and environmental studies before we reached the current iteration of the peaking plant and feel confident that it will serve as a critical asset for Grand Haven, providing reliable and affordable power, in the back-up and standby capacity role we envision for it, now and for years to come.
July 7, 2021
Grand Haven Board of Light & Power has transitioned from a single-source coal-fired power plant to a diversified power supply portfolio and technologically-advanced distribution system.
Read the summary Sims Site Redevelopment Fact Sheet below to learn more.
July 1, 2021
The approved rate reduction reduces overall retail charges to all customer classes per kWh by about 0.8%. Overall residential charges will remain unchanged, however, about 60% of residential customers will experience a slight increase in their average monthly bills, and about 40% of customers will experience a slightly larger decrease in their monthly bills depending on how they use their power consistent with the BLP’s cost of service determinations. Commercial and industrial customers will see an overall reduction in charges of about 1.2% in total, but some will see modest increases and others will see larger decreases.
Continue reading the 2022 BLP energy rate guide
June 29, 2021
Grand Haven Redevelops Harbor Island – June 29, 2021
June 18, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Grand Haven Board of Light & Power Approves Sims site Redevelopment Project and Up to $50 Million Bond for Site Demolition, Remediation & Redevelopment Plan
Thursday, June 17, 2021, | Grand Haven, MI — The Grand Haven Board of Light & Power (GHBLP) has approved the Sims site redevelopment project and sale of 20-year utility system revenue bonds up to $50 million at Thursday’s meeting. Aligning with GHBLP’s recently approved strategic plan and 5-year capital improvement plan, these bonds will pay for the cost of the Sims plant demolition, recent substation and infrastructure improvements, environmental remediation, an Operations and Technology facility, and a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant on the Sims site on Harbor Island.
Jack Smant, chairperson of the board stated, “We have been listening to those in the community expressing concerns regarding the Board of Light & Power’s redevelopment plan for the Sims site and we appreciate all the public’s input. We have heard you and we understand your desires and dreams for that site and the development of a financially and environmentally responsible diversified power supply portfolio for the utility. We have also considered the recommendations of multiple studies from independent national engineering experts and each study has returned the same answer: diversify the BLP’s power supply portfolio in the regional wholesale market, incorporate more renewables when it makes economic sense, supplement & compliment that portfolio with a small peaking CHP facility that can offset costs for our community when market energy pricing escalates, and lower our snowmelt system operating and heating costs in the process, if possible. The CHP plant is a very small portion of a much larger power supply portfolio and a component that has been fully vetted. The Board has now determined the Sims site redevelopment plan is the most balanced approach considering all community interests and it is the best possible solution for this environmentally challenging site.” Smant added, “As a not-for-profit utility, our board has a mission and fiduciary responsibility to provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable power. This investment will keep our rates competitive and stable and set Grand Haven up for long-term sustainability and reliability in our energy future.”
The approved bond authorizing resolution allows for up to $50 million to be issued if later determined appropriate (rather than using the BLP cash reserves for a portion of the project).
“Authorizing this bond issue represents the culmination of 5 years of careful strategic planning to diversify our power supply with the input of national experts and our community,” said General Manager David Walters.
GHBLP plans to use the term-out provisions stated on the Bond Anticipation Notes (BAN) agreement until the new debt approved by the Board is issued. Walters also noted that without bonds being issued, electric rates would likely increase in order to pay for the work already funded by the BANs and additional necessary portions of the redevelopment project even if the CHP and operations facility was not approved.
“The proposed Sims site redevelopment plan, guided by experts in power supply, engineering, environmental remediation, architecture, finance, and rate planning, is specifically designed to balance the diverse interests of the community and stabilize and reduce rates for both residential and business customers,” said Walters. “The alternative of buying solely from the marketplace without any local hedge will expose Grand Haven to future spikes in both capacity and energy costs.”
Now approved by the Board, the bond authorizing resolution will be presented to Grand Haven City Council for their approval at their Monday, July 19th session. If approved, the bonds will be underwritten by Bank of America, and are expected to be sold later this year. The bonds would be fully repaid with electric utility revenues generated through rates that were recently reviewed and established through a Cost of Service Study conducted by Utility Financial Solutions. No tax dollars are used to pay any operating or capital expenses of the electric utility.
June 18, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Grand Haven Board of Light & Power reports results of additional contamination sampling on sims site
Thursday, June 17, 2021, | Grand Haven, MI — Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (GHBLP) officials have discovered regulated PFAS and other chemical contamination at the former J.B. Sims site on Harbor Island. GHBLP staff reported these findings to the board and the public on Thursday night. PFAS was identified through additional contamination sampling conducted in preparation for further closure work of the site’s defined coal ash impoundments. This sampling was conducted by the BLP’s sampling and testing firm to determine what type of handling will be required for groundwater that will be pumped at the site during required coal ash remediation efforts.
Erik Booth, BLP Operations & Power Supply Manager stated, “Results of these recent tests received last week confirmed the presence of elevated contaminant levels on the Sims site were above regulatory criteria (in addition to those contaminants already present from the coal ash) for Ammonia and total inorganic nitrogen, Cyanide, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS).”
The test results are available for the public on the BLP’s CCR Rule Compliance Data and Information webpage. This is the first set of tests conducted for chemical constituents unrelated to coal ash. A second set of confirmatory sampling is scheduled within the next 10 days to verify these results. The results of these future confirmation/validation tests will also be made available to the public as soon as possible.
These chemical contaminants have now been detected in the groundwater at the former Sims site, however, the safety of the City’s drinking water supply has not been impacted.
Patrick McGinnis, City Manager stated, “While the City is disappointed to learn of the detection of PFAS compounds under Harbor Island, it is not entirely surprising, considering the historical uses of the site. Throughout the process of demolition on the Sims site, rigorous and regular testing for PFAS and other possible contaminants has confirmed the safety of the drinking water, sanitary discharge, and surface waters. With the support of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, Grand Valley State University, Northwest Ottawa Water System, and Grand Haven Spring Lake Sewer Authority, we will continue to monitor and test for any changes, risks, or mitigation measures which may be indicated by this new information.”
The BLP tested for these non-ash related compounds in preparation of potential remedial activities which may include significant dewatering and discharges to the river, to drawdown the groundwater near these waste deposits to facilitate required excavation of coal ash (which could impact or disturb nearby or underlying waste materials disposed of at the site historically). These contamination constituents are not present in the coal ash produced by Sim’s operations which began in the early 1960s.
Following the decision to demolish the former J.B. Sims coal plant at the site, GHBLP has strongly advocated for a holistic approach to remediation at the site because of its known contamination as a former city waste dump.
David Walters, BLP General Manager said, “The BLP has repeatedly stated that we are seeking a compliance strategy that avoids negatively impacting the in-situ materials (both ash and trash) that have been undisturbed in the ground for very long periods of time. The BLP will likely be required by EGLE and/or EPA to conduct some ash removal during site closure activities. The goal of any ash removal plan should be to avoid exacerbation of contaminant levels in the groundwater, or any release of these contaminants to the Grand River from these other materials historically disposed of on the site. Testing of this water needed to be conducted before an effective removal strategy could be developed.”
This new information will be evaluated as part of the ash impoundment closure strategy to be approved and agreed upon by the appropriate environmental regulatory agencies consistent with the future redevelopment plans of the Sims site.
June 15, 2021
Please take notice that Grand Haven Board of Light & Power’s Board of Directors will hold its regularly scheduled Board meeting on Thursday, June 17, 2021, in the Ballroom of the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus, Grand Haven, Michigan. The meeting will begin at 4:00pm.
Please see the procedures below for public participation.
1. Join in person. Please note, individuals who have are not fully vaccinated for the COVID-19
the virus will be required to wear a face-covering during the in-person meeting. Face coverings
are optional for individuals who are fully vaccinated.
2. Join via live Zoom meeting following the procedures below.
Notice of Meeting Location Change for June 17, 2021
Board Agenda June 17, 2021
June 7, 2021
Blog Post; The Financial Reality of Redeveloping Property Created from Our Trash and Ash
Long before GHBLP’s presence on Harbor Island, this area served as the City’s dump. Most of the site consists of layers of trash and coal ash dumped prior to the environmental awakening of the 1970s. Consequently, the demolition of the Sims Power Plant, environmental remediation, and redevelopment of the property represents a significant responsibility and millions in expense for our community.
GHBLP made the strategic decision to seek an electric utility revenue bond issue because it is the most financially-responsible way to remediate and redevelop the site. We have included $12 million that was already spent in the bonded project for plant demolition ($5 million), snowmelt equipment ($1 million), Island substation improvements ($4 million), and Advanced Metering Infrastructure ($2 million).
Future environmental remediation activities required by EGLE are projected at $17.8 million. Of that, $5.5 million will be covered by the bonds. The remaining $27.5 million will pay for the on-site Operations & Technical facility and combined heat and power plant. GHBLP also budgeted $13.5 million of cash reserves to pay for additional environmental remediation.
If electric revenue bonds are not used to pay a portion of these necessary costs as part of an electric utility redevelopment project, more of GHBLP’s reserve funds and potentially general funds of the City will be required, likely causing a significant electric rate or tax increases.
The BLP’s current budget and five-year capital plan includes funds from this $45 million electric utility revenue bond issue, which allows for an overall rate reduction of 0.8%. We ask the public and City Council to carefully assess the financial implications of these bonding decisions and the impact on BLP customers and operations.
Gerald Witherell, Grand Haven BLP Board Director
Read the letter to the editor submitted to the Grand Haven Tribune here.
May 21, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GRAND HAVEN BOARD OF LIGHT & POWER APPROVES FY2022 BUDGET, 5-YEAR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN
Thursday, May 20, 2021, | Grand Haven, MI — The Grand Haven Board of Light and Power (GHBLP) has approved an FY2022 budget and 5-year capital improvement plan that includes redevelopment plans for Harbor Island and an overall rate reduction.
“In alignment with our new strategic plan, this is a solid budget that will get us kicked off for redevelopment at Harbor Island and fund other critical improvements across our service area,” said Gerald Witherell, vice-chairperson for the board.
The approved budget anticipates the passage of a revenue bond proposal to fund work that has already been completed at Harbor Island including demolition, environmental remediation, and substation upgrades. With the bond, the BLP will also begin final coal ash remediation and construction of an Operations and Technical Center including a 12.5MW combined heat and power peaking plant.
“The Harbor Island plan and the Combined Heat and Power plant included in the capital plan represent the most economical choice available to Grand Haven,” said Erik Booth, Manager of Operations and Power Supply. “By purchasing most of our power from the grid and locally generating some of our own power in times when market prices are highest, we will enable higher levels of intermittent renewable energy purchases and avoid higher-cost energy purchases when these resources are not producing.”
The new budget also reflects updates to GHBLP’s rate structure, which the utility has designed to cover the costs of production and distribution service. The utility commissioned independent rate consultants to conduct a cost-of-service study and provide rate change recommendations.
The approved rate reduction reduces overall retail charges to all customer classes per KWh by about 0.8%. Overall residential charges will remain unchanged, however, about 60% of residential customers will experience a slight increase in their average monthly bills, and about 40% of customers will experience a slightly larger decrease in their monthly bills depending on how they use their power consistent with the BLP’s cost of service determinations. Commercial and industrial customers will see an overall reduction in charges of about 1.2% in total, but some will see modest increases and others will see larger decreases. GHBLP represents one of only a few utilities providing reduced or stable rates for customers as neighboring investor-owned Michigan utilities such as Consumers and DTE are proposing increases of about 11% in the next year, on top of those rate increases recently approved.
During its May 13 work-study, the Board recommended increasing the proposed $4 monthly discount for senior citizens to $5 per month and adjusting even further UFS recommendations on some commercial and industrial fixed charges to move them closer to their true cost of service determinations within the independent study. Neither of these adjustments were included in the original UFS rate change recommendations that projected a 1.3% overall reduction.
The GHBLP provides electricity for approximately 14,800 customers in Grand Haven and the surrounding area.