Transparency & the Role of a Community-Owned Utility
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 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:
- GHBLP is a community-owned, locally-controlled, not-for-profit municipal electric utility. As such, our bottom line is three-fold serving: Grand Haven’s people, our environment and fiscal sustainability.
- We are directed by a 5-member Board, elected by the community, who are responsible for setting customer rates, acting for community interests, and planning for the future.
- Everyone in the community has a voice into our Board. In accordance with the Open Meetings Act, all actions of the Board are discussed in open, transparent meetings which include a Public Comment Period for your elected Board to hear input directly.
- Board minutes and corresponding reports are easily accessible and shared on GHBLP’s website at ghblp.org.
We recognize there is always room for improvement, so we actively seek community input to listen to what our community desires. Some of the activities we have invested in over the past several years include:
- GHBLP contracts with a national research firm to conduct annual, scientific Customer Satisfaction surveys to gather customer feedback on service quality, planning and energy resource preferences.
- GHBLP has held, and continues to hold many public forums, bringing in subject matter experts to discuss topics such as technical engineering studies, power supply diversification, environmental cleanup at Harbor Island, and redevelopment efforts of Harbor Island.
- GHBLP partnered with a firm to improve communications regarding GHBLP’s future energy plan and remediation efforts. Through that partnership, we have:
- Launched a microsite at GrandHavenPower.org to provide specific information relevant to future energy plans and gather community input.
- Met with a diverse cross-section of local decision makers ranging from municipal leadership and businesses to environmental interest groups and healthcare to share our plans and gather feedback.
- Created a series of Community forums with subject matter experts and Q&A sessions open to everyone in the community.
- GHBLP officials meet with our largest customers annually to ensure they are current on GHBLP matters, to hear their input, answer any questions, address concerns or help find solutions so they may operate more efficiently.
- We also meet with individual customers to listen to concerns and answer any questions.
Ongoing communications efforts include:
- Maintaining an up-to-date website with full access to public information at ghblp.org.
- Bi-monthly newsletters and updates distributed to all customers.
- Bill stuffers, direct mailers and email blasts to inform customers on current or new programs, projects, bill pay methods, assistance programs, COVID mandates, etc.
- Monthly radio spots on WGHN, WMPA and WAWL to help local listeners stay informed.
- Daily social media sharing, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Distribution of Press Releases to local radio and media outlets regarding immediate matters.
- Participation in community events to meet and talk directly with members of the community including parades, Earth Day, WGHN’s Home, Business, Garden Show, and WAWL’s Home Show.
We are grateful for the engagement and support of our community to continuously improve our services, communications and plans for the future. As we move forward, Grand Haven can always count on GHBLP to align our operations with shared values and best interests of the entire community, and we look forward to your continued feedback.
Renee Molyneux, Administrative Services Manager & Secretary to the Board