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State issues permit for Holland to expand coal-fired-power plant

Holland is considering replacing one of the units at the James DeYoung power plant.
Holland BPW
Holland is considering replacing one of the units at the James DeYoung power plant.

The state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment initially denied the air quality permit. That’s because former Governor Jennifer Granholm said the state must consider whether or not a community really needs more power before issuing a permit. An Ottawa County judge ruled that’s not a good enough reason to deny the permit and ordered the DNRE to review the permit application by this Sunday.

Brad Wurfel is a spokesman for the DNRE.

“We’ve been working with the City of Holland and EPA on this and what we came to throughout that process was just the end of the line in terms of the court imposed date for getting this concluded and we’ve done so.”

The permit would allow the city to build a new 78-megawatt coal burning unit at the city’s existing coal plant. The new ‘clean coal’ unit would replace one that’s nearly 60 years old.

Holland BPW Director Loren Howard notes the unit would be able to burn more than just coal.

“We can burn wood waste in it. We can burn sludge from our waste water treatment plant. We can burn tire-derived fuel – old tires.”

Though he has the permit in hand, Howard says it doesn’t mean the city will build the plant. Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra says the expanded plant is one of a few options they’re considering to meet the community’s growing demand for energy.

“This advances our ability to have a discussion in this community. Though, of course, we recognize that this probably is not the end of the legal challenge and legal battle to this plant.”

Dykstra assumes there will be environmental groups willing to take them to court to stop the plant.

State officials say they’re also working to review another permit application for a plant in Rogers City that was denied for similar reasons.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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