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Power plant in Grand Haven closing down after short coal supply runs out

Posted at 8:27 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 07:10:19-05

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Grand Haven's power source is changing, and it means they're not going to burn coal any more.

With just a one-day supply of coal left, the time the Sims Power Plant has been the main power source in Grand Haven is over.

“I thought it was about time,” Grand Haven resident John Golden said.

Golden said when he heard the news the Sims Power Plant was shutting down, he was all for it. “To make it ecologically suitable would take more investment than what it’s worth,” Golden said. “So it’s time to let it go."

The power company agrees. It's just too expensive to keep the place running.

“It’s primarily economics,” said Board of Light and Power general Manager David Walters said. "The plant over the last several years has not been economical with the power we can purchase else-wear."

For now on, the Board of LIght and Power will purchase power.

“Actually, we think the power prices will stay very stable,” Walters said. “We have for some time supplemented the Sims plant operations with power purchases."

This shutdown of a coal plant is part of a national trend, according to the power company. The aging plants just don't offer the same return on investment.

“Coal plants are shutting down regularly,” Walters said. "This is kind of a normal practice."

But for Grand Haven, the switch is a big deal.

“It’s a bigger deal for us because it’s been our primary supply for the last 37 years,” Walters said.

Although it's the end of an era for employees at the plant, it's also the start of a new one.

“I think they all realize it’s time to shut the plant down. But it’s been their livelihood for a long period of time,” Walters said.

Walters says the plant has been operating at a reduced staff for quite some time. He says they plan to train workers in other aspects of the job and aren't anticipating job cuts at this time.

For those wondering, the plant supplies the heat that keeps the sidewalk in downtown Grand Haven free of snow during the winter. The power company says they've purchased enough power to keep sidewalks clear the rest of the winter while they weigh their options for next year.