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 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.

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