Grand Haven Power Plan

Securing a Diverse Energy Portfolio

A diversified power portfolio enables our community to meet customer needs for reliability and affordability while also advancing our goals for sustainability and environmental stewardship. In alignment with our FY 2017 – 2021 Strategic Plan, the framework for redeveloping our Harbor Island site while also executing long term renewable contracts will help to round out this portfolio.

Why Redevelop Harbor Island

Over the past five years, GHBLP has invested heavily in its distribution system and advanced metering technology to improve reliability and service for our customers. Prior to decommissioning, the J.B. Sims coal plant was the hub for managing our local power infrastructure. With demolition of the plant, GHBLP does not have permanent facilities capable of housing the staff and technology necessary to operate and maintain our system in the long term. In addition, the Harbor Island site is still home to the Grand Haven’s primary distribution substation and newly reconstructed connection to the regional transmission network, which cannot be affordably relocated.

GHBLP commissioned ProgressiveAE to weigh the costs associated with redeveloping a portion of Harbor Island to house a new technology and operations center versus adding to the GHBLP’s headquarters on Eaton Drive. The report found that with the added efficiency of access to the grid, the needs of snowmelt and the potential for a combined heat and power generation project, it was more cost-effective to site this new structure near the utility’s existing infrastructure on Harbor Island.

Advanced Operations & Technical Center

The Operations & Technical Center (OTC) proposed for our Harbor Island site will house GHBLP’s operations staff, advanced distribution hub, maintenance equipment and combined heat and power equipment and generators. Also on site will be the utility’s primary connection to the regional transmission network, the downtown substation and a dedicated space for future new technologies including advanced energy storage or a community-owned solar project.

Designed to complement the waterfront and surrounding natural area, the OTC will be a substantial aesthetic improvement from J.B. Sims coal plant on the waterfront with a far smaller footprint. We are planning to clean up and restore half of GHBLP’s current site to a natural wetland, turning it over for public and conservation use.

Combined Heat & Power Generation

Since the beginning of our planning process, community stakeholders have expressed a strong interest for local generation to couple cost effectively with our downtown snowmelt system. While initial concepts for a 36MW-54MW generation facility on our Harbor Island site proved to be cost-prohibitive (primarily due to limited natural gas infrastructure), GHBLP worked with Burns &McDonnell, ProgessiveAE, and Power Engineers Collaborative to “right-size” a project that would meet the needs of the community that could be constructed within our five-year financial plan.

Greater control and options to reduce power cost

The proposed 12.5MW Combined Heat And Power (CHP) project would consist of five reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE), coupled with five natural gas-fired hot water boilers. The generation component of the project represents approximately 15% of our state-mandated resource adequacy requirements for capacity. These generating units, when not used in their CHP application (i.e. in the winter to provide heat to the snowmelt system), are also considered “peaking” resources because GHBLP can run them to protect our community from wholesale energy price spikes during peak summer load conditions. What’s more, by contributing to the overall capacity within the region, the units will help us to leverage the best pricing on more interruptable power purchase contracts.

Cost-effective heat for snowmelt

Grand Haven’s downtown snowmelt system is a critical resource for commerce, ensuring vibrant, four-season operations for restaurants, hospitality and retail businesses. Previously, waste heat from nearby J.B. Sims coal plant provided more than enough energy to heat the snowmelt system. With water in these pipes beneath city streets, heat must be supplied throughout the winter to avoid freezing damage. However, now that the Sims plant is decommissioned, the hot water for snowmelt will need to be sourced elsewhere.

Working with City officials, GHBLP installed five natural gas hot water boilers on the utility’s Harbor Island site as a scalable solution to provide as much or little heat as the system needs with appropriate redundancy to ensure continuous winter season operation. While these hot water boilers will provide all the necessary heat to the snowmelt system, we can also utilize their waste heat to improve the generation system’s operating efficiency.

The five proposed RICE units in our plan will pair effectively with the newly installed hot water boilers to create a Combined Heat and Power solution with higher efficiency and cost-effectiveness to reduce operational costs for the City of Grand Haven and downtown merchants.

Investing in Technology

An important part of the GHBLP’s strategic plan is to implement proven, advanced technologies that improve reliability, safety, sustainability and customer satisfaction.

Distribution Technology

Over the past year, GHBLP has transitioned fully to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) including the upgrade of both residential and commercial meters across the community. The new system gives customers greater insight into their usage, so they can understand how daily activities affect the amount of energy they use. The system also enhances reliability and service by providing real-time insight into outages and power safety issues like downed wires.

Over the last few years, GHBLP has also installed a new Customer Information System (CIS) and Outage Management System (OMS). These have improved customer support along with the implementation of a 24/7 call center service contract for backup support. Additionally, GHBLP has made improvements to its GIS system and upgraded its distribution system control, monitoring, and data management software and equipment. These improvements are all consistent with our organizational technology assessment and plan called for within our five-year strategic plan.

Renewable Energy

Our plans for securing a diverse and sustainable energy portfolio include an aggressive commitment to renewable resources. By 2022, GHBLP will source 25% of its energy needs from wind, solar, and landfill gas contracts including a recent power purchase agreement for 14.4 MW of solar, most of which will come from Michigan’s largest and newest solar farm. Learn more on our Energy Sources page.

New Technologies

Along with other municipal electric utility members of the Michigan Public Power Agency, and consistent with the recommendations of industry-leading power supply planning professionals, GHBLP has been investigating the possibility of new technologies including increased use of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) and advanced energy storage. These technologies hold great promise for the future. However, their efficacy and cost at a local scale are not yet fully proven to warrant an investment. The master plan for the redevelopment of our Harbor Island site sets aside space for GHBLP to implement these technologies when the time comes.

How Did We Get Here?

Learn more about the years of planning and community input that resulted in these plans for Grand Haven’s future energy.