Holland City Council votes to replace aging coal plant with new natural gas one

Dec 6, 2012

The City of Holland plans to build a new $182 million power plant. Wednesday night Holland City Council voted eight to one to replace the city’s more than 70-year-old coal plant with a brand new one that burns natural gas instead.

“I don’t know about you but I’ve made some bad decisions in my life and I’ve made them probably because I acted too quickly,” City Councilman Wayne Klomparens said before casting the lone “no” vote.

“When we do that we pay the consequences for it,” Klomparens said. He worries the city is overlooking options that may cost less and provide more flexibility in the long run.

Some residents worried the cost of natural gas will spike as demand across the nation increases.

“We’ve had lots of meetings on this,” Councilman Brian Burch said, “While I enjoy talking about it I think it’s time to start making decisions; right or wrong.  It’s time to move forward.”

Burch was among the majority who felt the years-long decision process has gone on long enough.

“We have no guarantees in this life. So we do the best we can with the information we have. And those in the (Board of Public Works) have full-time jobs studying this,” City Councilwoman Nancy DeBoer said, “I trust them.”  

Now the BPW needs to pick a place to build the plant. Then it’ll need state air quality permits and an engineering firm to design it.

It’s unclear what will happen to the aging coal plant.

The new plant will be much more efficient than the old one. It’ll supply up to 114 MW, nearly twice as much energy as the coal plant’s  roughly 65 MW.

The BPW says there may be opportunities to sell the baseload power to other utilities.

Environmentalists said they were happy the city decided against expanding and renovating the existing plant, since natural gas burns cleaner than coal. They were also happy the plan includes renewable sources, including wind power. Still, others said they wanted the city to invest much more in conservation efforts for all residents and businesses to reduce the need for baseload generation.