Grand Haven Energy Organization: What is it?

Grand Haven Energy Organization (GHEO)

Disambiguation of Grand Haven Energy Organization and Grand Haven Board of Light & Power

Recently, some of our customers have asked about the nature of the Grand Haven Energy Organization. This is likely because the group’s name sounds a bit like the name of a public electric utility. In the post that follows, we’ll help distinguish between Grand Haven Energy Organization and Grand Haven Board of Light and Power.

Grand Haven Energy Organization (GHEO) identifies itself as a community-based advocacy group run by volunteers.

Grand Haven's Energy Utility Logo

Grand Haven Board of Light & Power (GHBLP or the BLP) is your local, community-owned municipal electric utility provider. GHBLP is not related to or associated with GHEO.

If you would like to contact your energy provider, report an outage or pay your bill, please visit the utility’s homepage:

Core Mission & Objectives

Grand Haven Board of Light & Power Mission

GHBLP’s stated mission is “to meet our community’s expectations for reliable electric service that returns value to our customers, and ensures the economic and environmental sustainability of the utility.” The utility is accountable to its customers, board and voters to source electrical generation and distribute it safely and reliably to customers.

In alignment with GHBLP’s strategic plan and the shared values of the community, the utility is transitioning away from reliance on a single fossil fuel source to a diversified power supply portfolio. Current plans call for the environmental cleanup of the utility’s former coal plant site on Harbor Island and redevelopment of a combined heat and power (CHP) peaking plant that would supply a small portion of the community’s capacity and energy needs.

Grand Haven Energy Organization Objectives

According to their website, GHEO’s purpose is “to provide basic information, education and alternatives to the energy discussion in Grand Haven.” The organization’s stated petition objective is to delay Grand Haven City Council’s approval of a 20-year revenue bond that would fund existing debt and new spending for environmental cleanup at Harbor Island, improvements to snowmelt, demolition of the JB Sims coal plant and construction of an Operations & Technical Center and CHP plant. 

GHEO spokespersons have been forward in stating that the organization does not necessarily disagree that GHBLP’s current plans may be the best course of action. However, GHEO is concerned that the utility is moving forward without enough citizen oversight or input. GHEO is asking the city to fund additional studies to validate or seek alternatives to the utility’s current plans.

Governance

Grand Haven Board of Light & Power Governance

GHBLP is community-owned and operated. The utility has served the community with electricity since 1896. It is governed by a board of five elected directors who have a legal responsibility to act in the best interests of the community, voters, and approximately 14,800 customers from the Grand Haven region, including many customers beyond city limits.

GHBLP is managed by a leadership of energy, engineering and environmental professionals with many years of experience.

The Board is subject to the Open Meetings Act, Freedom of Information Act, adherence to local, State and Federal regulations, and it operates with the highest requirements of transparency and reporting to its stakeholders. Reports and board minutes are kept up to date at ghblp.org. Customers and community members can contact board members directly through the GHBLP Team Page.

Grand Haven Energy Organization Governance

GHEO has identified itself as a group of about 20-25 community volunteers. The organization is not a registered nonprofit organization and has no legal transparency requirements nor has it disclosed financials or meeting minutes since its formation in 2020. The organization is affiliated and supported by West Michigan Environmental Action Coalition and the Sierra Club, a national lobbying organization.

GHEO does not have a fiduciary responsibility to the community.

Finances

Grand Haven Board of Light & Power Financials

As a customer-owned nonprofit utility, the law requires GHBLP make their financial statements available to the public. The elected board’s governance oversees audits and approves yearly budgets. They ensure alignment with strategic plans, appropriate laws and guidelines as well as the community input. Every GHBLP bill paid is an investment in the Grand Haven community.

GHBLP’s current plans for transitioning to a diversified power supply portfolio have been through a rigorous review of financial and sustainability outcomes. What’s more, an independent rates study has confirmed stable or decreasing rates will result from continued adherence to the new strategic plan.

Grand Haven Energy Organization Financials

As reported on the GHEO website, West Michigan Environmental Action Council manages donations for the Grand Haven Energy Organization. GHEO does not directly accept donations.

GHEO has also purchased or coordinated newspaper and billboard advertising that indicate spending. The group has made no financial disclosures publicly available on their website to date.

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