Government, Lakeshore, and Sustainability

Holland launches renewable energy opt-in program

Move is in response to multiple customer requests.

July 5, 2013
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The Holland Board of Public Works launched an opt-in renewable energy program last week that allows all customers the opportunity to have a portion of their electricity provided through renewable energy sources.

Utility Services Director John Van Uffelen said the program was the result of growing requests from industrial and residential customers for renewable energy options.

“We do customer satisfaction surveys every year and we ask some of these questions, and I would guess 20 to 30 percent of our customers indicated a willingness to pay a little more for renewable power,” Van Uffelen said.

The Holland BPW has been working on upping its renewable energy options for several years and even considered building its own wind farm at one point. Contributing factors to developing the elective program have included a long-term energy plan to reduce the community’s carbon footprint that the city signed, and the Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act, which is a state law that requires communities to provide a certain amount of energy through renewable sources.

“I think, overall for ourselves, the benefit is that we are, as a utility, committed to environmental improvement,” Van Uffelen said. “Our community has adopted a community energy plan, a long-term plan, with a goal of reducing the carbon footprint, so as a community being able to move toward more renewable energy, we accomplish some of those goals. And, for our customers, we find that many of our customers are also interested in those same goals.

“I think as a community, customers and a utility, we are all behind more efficient power and power that is more sustainable and has less impact on our environment.”

Holland BPW has contracts with two wind farm providers, one in Michigan and one in Indiana: E.ON Wildcat 1 and Beebe Wind. Additionally, it has purchase power agreements with Grayling Generating Station for biomass and North American Natural Resources and Granger for landfill-based generation.

By 2015, 16 percent of its energy will come from renewable sources, he said, which is up from 5 percent currently. The state mandate is for 10 percent renewable energy sources by 2015.

The program provides two options for customers: Purchase renewable energy in blocks of 100 kWh at a cost of $1.50 per block (1 block=100kWh), or purchase energy in 5 percent increments of monthly consumption at the cost of $0.015 per kWh.

Van Uffelen said if customers’ demand for renewable energy exceeds what is available, the BPW will purchase more energy to meet that demand.

He also warned that whether or not a customer opts into the Elective Renewable Energy program, it would not eliminate or replace the renewable energy charge currently found on all customers’ bills. That charge is related to the state law for renewable energy, and all customers must pay that fee. Customers who opt into the renewable energy program will see an additional charge on their bill that reflects their participation in the program.

Customers who would like to participate in the program are able to apply and can find more information on the program online.

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