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Grand Haven public utility moves ahead with plans for a natural gas 'peaker' plant

Courtesy Grand Haven BLP

The Grand Haven Board of Light and Power has approved building a new natural gas powered plant to supplement buying power from the grid.

The west Michigan municipal utility is asking City Council to approve bonds for up to $50 million. The money would also be used to clean up pollution from a now demolished coal-burning power plant and to build an office complex.

A group of Grand Haven residents and some businesses want the municipal utility to take a pause and study using renewable energy instead.

“What is the hurry to build this new complex on Harbor Island, which is the island near the downtown of Grand Haven,” asked Field Reichardt, a member of the Grand Haven Energy Organization.

“The studies that they’re requesting have been done and the studies are posted on our website,” said David Walters, the General Manager of the Board of Light and Power.

Walters says the utility needs a backup plan on days when demand increases.

“A small peaking plant that can run when the power costs on the outside market are very, very high.”

Reichardt says when demand is up is when solar power is best.

“The issue of supply of energy on a hot summer day is going to change because the sun shines and the solar energy provides energy.”

The Grand Haven City Council is expected to take up the bond request sometime in July.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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