Community Energy Plan for the city of Holland

LED Lighting in downtown Holland, Michigan

LED Lighting in downtown Holland, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Michigan Municipal League.

In 2011, the City of Holland and its utility, the Holland Board of Public Works, embarked on creating a Community Energy Plan, with a target year of 2050, with the following goals:

  • Ensure economic competitiveness;
  • Provide reliable and affordable energy; and,
  • Protect the environment.

The energy plan is distinctive because of the level of cooperation and collaboration between the city government, the utility, and the community sustainability committee. Through a collaborative planning process, Holland has created a robust energy plan for the future that addresses the triple bottom line of sustainability while addressing the needs of multiple, varied constituencies.

The Community Energy Plan (CEP) was a collaborative project of the City of Holland and the Holland Board of Public Works. A team consisting of representatives from each entity managed the process. Members of the Mayor’s Energy Task Force and the Sustainability Committee played an advisory role. A consultant team, headed by Garforth International, LLC, was hired to develop baseline and alternative scenarios for energy production through 2050.

Holland is among those municipalities who operate their own utility, the Holland Board of Public Works, which generates power for the community and beyond. Currently, the main generator is the coal fired De-Young power plant, with a natural gas peaking plant. One major motivation for undertaking this planning process is that the coal fired plant is nearing the end of its useful life and a future capital planning decision must be made.

Under the baseline scenario, per capita greenhouse gas emissions would rise from the current level of 24 mt CO2e per resident to 36.7 mt by 2050. Garforth developed four different future scenarios that combine energy efficiency, distribution, and supply. The scenarios all have efficiency measures and focus on recommendations that have value to both the end users and the utility.

Out of the four scenarios evaluated, the Project Work Team chose Scenario B, which included the following elements:

  • Energy retrofit of existing buildings
  • Use of an Energy Performance Label for all structures
  • Transportation efficiency from more efficient vehicles and a more walkable community.
  • Refrigerator and AC replacement program
  • Industrial Energy Management programs
  • District Heating systems
  • Construction of a 70 MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant, integrated with district heating
  • 10 MW from landfill gas
  • 20 MW biomass generating block using advanced bio-gasification
  • 24 MW solar photovoltaic
  • 37 MW of wind power

While the City Council did not approve the CEP as a whole, it has approved many of the goals of the plan and creation of a number of task forces to begin implementing the different sections of the plan. Consultants have been selected to examine the feasibility of the home retrofit program as well as the construction of the new CCGT.

Holland’s Community Energy Plan is a powerful example of what can be accomplished when a municipality works collaboratively with its utility and the community to develop a plan that meets the goals of various constituencies. The approach the City took was appropriate to the need for long term planning for the utility and the community. Through careful planning, the City was able to develop and begin implementing a plan that will increase reliability and supply of energy for its growing industrial sector as well as reduce its carbon footprint and make the city a more vibrant and environmentally-conscious place to live.