Enter Downtown Holland, traveling west down Chicago Drive. Look to your right and see an eye-catching modern structure that is gray with a splash of red. What is this building set back from the road, surrounded by a natural landscape? This is Holland Energy Park (HEP), a community-owned power generation facility. Holland BPW just wrapped up celebrating Public Power Week. This is a time to reflect on the value of community-owned infrastructure. Which has us thinking about the ways HEP has made an impact.
Holland Energy Park is unique in many ways. It is the first facility of its kind to receive the prestigious ENVISION Platinum rating from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. The red spine of HEP hosts a Visitor Center that outside of pandemic times, educates the community about its role in the greater energy story. It also conveys the value of the utility, the science of providing electricity, and information regarding electric utility career paths. A walking trail circles the perimeter of Holland Energy Park. Many native plants and wildlife thrive in the natural habitat. HEP has also provided for substantial expansion of Holland’s world renowned snowmelt system. The snowmelt helps support increased mobility for a healthy community and economic vitality for a thriving downtown.
Many native plants and wildlife thrive in the natural habitat.
Holland Energy Park is the result of community engagement
A community engagement process led by a collaboration of Holland BPW and the City of Holland crafted the decision to build Holland Energy Park. The process involved a series of events aimed towards listening to the diverse needs and interests within the community. The goal was to make an informed decision that would support the growing needs of our community well into the future. The findings were that the community needs access to electricity that is reliable, economical and sustainable. Now in its third year of production, is HEP the proven resource that is was designed to be?
Holland Energy Park is Holland BPW’s own baseload resource, capable of providing a continuous power supply, which is an essential element of a reliable energy portfolio. HEP continues Holland BPW’s tradition of owning electric resources, which has provided customers with lower cost electricity and increased reliability. These are all factors that contribute to the level of service that earns Holland BPW recognition as a Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) by the American Public Power Association.
Holland Energy Park supports the electricity demand of Holland’s growing community. Holland BPW’s service area includes a developing industrial sector of 103 manufacturers, who depend heavily on reliability of the electric service. Since HEP opened, 25 local manufacturers have invested $98.8M to grow their operations. The results creating 1,291 new jobs (Lakeshore Advantage, 2020).
At the same time, Holland Energy Park made the greatest impact towards the progress of Holland’s Community Energy Plan by helping to reduce the carbon emissions of HBPW’s electric portfolio by 46%. This is due to Holland Energy Park’s ultra-efficient process for generating electricity. HEP uses only half of the energy that the retired coal fired plant (JDY) needed to make the same amount of power. The correlation between HEP’s ability to support the economic development of a growing industrial sector and still reduce the City’s carbon emissions demonstrates Holland Energy Park’s success as a reliable and sustainable power resource.
How has HEP fared in terms of economics? Holland Energy Park has provided Holland BPW with more electricity than is needed at times, allowing excess capacity to be sold to other providers in Michigan. This has brought significant value back to the utility and the City of Holland. As a result, Holland BPW has been able to increase its annual contribution to the City of Holland from $6.6M to $8.0M.
Furthermore, Holland BPW electric rates are among the lowest in the State of Michigan. Because of HEP, in 2018 electric rates were reduced even further by an average of 6% for customers. Another sizeable rate decrease is being planned for next year. The effectiveness of Holland Energy Park will also allow HBPW to reduce the timeframe to retire its electric utility debt. The original plan of 25 years is reduced down to only nine years. This will save tens of millions of dollars in interest.
Holland Energy Park’s Value
Is Holland Energy Park the resource our community needs to power Holland into the future? Yes. As an essential community-owned enterprise, Holland BPW engaged the community in the decision. The input brought great value to shaping Holland Energy Park. The result is a power generation resource that supports economic development while reducing carbon emissions and lowering electricity rates for customers. Holland Energy Park does indeed provide reliable, sustainable, economical electricity to our growing community.