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Distributed Energy Resources

Grand Haven Board of Light and Power Adds Solar Energy to its Renewable Portfolio

Michigan public power utility Grand Haven Board of Light and Power recently announced the addition of 12,000 megawatt hours from a Michigan solar farm to the utility’s renewable portfolio.

Representatives from the Grand Haven BLP and the Michigan Public Power Agency visited the state’s newest solar farm in Calhoun County, Mich., in late August to survey the facility that covers approximately 3,000 acres and came online in 2023.

This latest commitment to renewable energy by the BLP, made possible through the joint agency partnership with the MPPA, increases the utility’s investment in renewable sources to almost 23% of its overall power portfolio.

By 2025, the investments in renewable energy are projected to reach 28%. Solar energy purchases will represent 14% of the utility’s power purchases.

One of the visiting team, Erik Booth, BLP’s Operations and Power Supply Manager, said that Calhoun Solar is now the largest solar farm in the state “and represents one of five investments that we’ve made in solar projects in the last four years. This is the third project to have gone online; we have two more that are in the process of getting constructed.”

Booth explained that the BLP’s approach to power investment includes solar power as a part of its diversification strategy. He noted that “just a few short years ago Grand Haven was operating a single source, fossil-fuel fired coal plant. And now that plant has been retired and we are sitting on a diversified power supply portfolio.”

Comparing it to 401K investing, Booth described the diversification as spreading investment dollars across multiple “baskets,” to protect from fluctuating energy markets. Wind, battery storage and solar all play a part in the BLP’s long-term power purchasing strategy.

BLP has decreased its rates two times in the last six years “and saved the community millions of dollars annually by switching to a more market-based portfolio,” he said.

Invenergy, a Chicago-based developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions, manages the 200-megawatt solar farm.

The facility serves Consumers Energy, Lansing Board of Water and Light and several municipal power providers through the MPPA.

“Invenergy is a quality partner [and] was able to provide a good product for us through MPPA,” said Dave Walters, General Manager of the BLP. “I really support municipalities when they come together and they have a large project like this,” he said.

“These are big projects, big utility projects, they’re bold, they’re aggressive and we would never be able to participate in something like this by ourselves. So, the excitement around this project is generated by the participation of multiple entities throughout the state and it really shows that we can work together as municipalities to make things like this happen,” Walters said.   

The BLP serves approximately 15,000 customers in the City of Grand Haven, City of Ferrysburg, Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Robinson Townships.