Street Talk

Street Talk: Power plant powered by sustainability

Torch bearers.

May 23, 2014
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When it comes to sustainable energy, it’s never too early to start.

Work is about to get underway on a new power plant that eventually will supply power to the city of Holland, but city officials there are already in full sustainability mode.

The Holland Board of Public Works announced last week its extensive efforts to reuse and recycle materials at the 26-acre site, a wide variety of items the utility will move through auctions, reuse, recycling and donation.

“The Holland Energy Park will be a symbol of sustainability for our city,” said Dave Koster, general manager at HBPW. “In another era, we might have considered these materials to be waste debris, but today we have the opportunity to put them to good use on site and in the community. We are thinking broadly and creatively at every step in the project to maximize what can be repurposed to save money, protect the environment and benefit the community.”

HBPW has declared a number of pole buildings and sheds as surplus and plans to auction them off instead of demolishing them and putting the materials in a landfill. Two pole buildings will be maintained for operations during construction and will be auctioned after the power plant’s completion late in 2016. The utility also will maintain one home on Sixth Street as the construction field office. Ultimately, HBPW will auction the home to be moved to another location.

The utility has already reached out to the neighborhood revitalization charity Jubilee Ministries, which recovered several furnaces, hot water heaters, vanities, cabinets and a number of solid wood doors from unoccupied houses scheduled for demolition. The items will be given extended life in home renovation projects in other parts of the city.

HBPW also is working with Benjamin’s Hope, a community and housing ministry for families affected by autism, to recover and repurpose 20 utility poles and numerous tree trunks and stumps from the building site. The ministry plans to use them to construct a natural play area at its Riley Street site this summer.

"We're really excited and thankful to be working with HBPW on this project," said Krista Mason, executive director at Benjamin's Hope. "The poles are going to be an excellent building material for new swing sets and other structures at our natural playscape."

In addition, HBPW will reuse more than 20,000 cubic feet of concrete from buildings, sidewalks and streets at the Holland Energy Park site in a variety of ways, including gabion baskets (large wire cages filled with rocks), road bases, fencing, gates and picnic tables. The utility has taken an inventory of the mature trees on the site and plans to keep any that are not impacted by the new facility. A number of smaller trees and ornamentals will be transplanted into the final landscaping.

As part of HBPW’s purchase agreement with Star Excavating, the business is trading off its stockpiles of backfill material for the right to remove the steel portion of its building and reuse it in the company’s new location.

Online sale

There might be a new item for sale on eBay in the coming days: passwords.

The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan reported last week that eBay is asking users to change their passwords because of a cyber attack that compromised a database containing encrypted passwords and other non-financial data.

BBBWM President and CEO Phil Catlett said eBay reported no evidence of unauthorized activity for eBay users, and no evidence of any unauthorized access to financial or credit card information.

Still, Catlett indicated customers’ names, encrypted passwords, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth could be included in the cyber attack. He suggested any passwords associated with eBay that also are used on other sites (and doing that is always a big no-no; the same passwords should never be used across multiple sites and accounts) should also be changed.

All puffed up

The financial future looks pretty bright for a group of students from Muskegon’s Reeths-Puffer High School.

The school finished 10th nationally — among 733 participating schools — in a contest that measured rate of return on stock investments.

The 14-week competition among teams of middle and high school students organized by Congressional district and state is a special version of the Stock Market Game, where student teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 in listed stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash while learning the value of saving and investing as they work together to maximize the return of their portfolio.

The Reeths-Puffer students boasted an investment return of 34.572 percent and earned a trip to Washington, D.C., for an awards reception on Capitol Hill and a meeting with U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga.

“We commend all of the teachers and students who put their financial skills to the test on behalf of their members of Congress and gained valuable insights into the world of government and our global economy,” said Richard Brueckner, chairman of the SIFMA Foundation, which sponsored the event.

“We also commend Congress on its unanimous support of a critical area of education — youth financial capability — through a record 100 percent participation in SIFMA Foundation’s 2014 Capitol Hill Challenge program.”

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation’s Stock Market Game is a curriculum-based program where student teams in grades 4-12 learn about the global marketplace and long-term saving and investing fundamentals by using a hypothetical brokerage account. The program has served 15 million students and hundreds of thousands of teachers since its inception in 1977.

Fire fly

The 2014 Meijer State Games of Michigan are just around the corner, and the event is looking more like a real Olympics every day.

This year a weeklong “torch tour” will precede the Games, which begin June 20, with a specially designed torch making its way from the Upper Peninsula to Grand Rapids. The torch tour is sponsored by Huntington Bank (and, no, John Irwin will not be making the trek all by himself).

The custom-made torch is a product of the Detroit Design Center and incorporates core Michigan elements such as iron ore and copper from the Upper Peninsula and reclaimed glass, steel and wood from Detroit industrial locations. The torch will rest in a base that includes iconic natural resources from Michigan, including water from all five Great Lakes and sand from Sleeping Bear Dunes.

“The inaugural Meijer State Games of Michigan Torch Tour presented by Huntington Bank will showcase the Meijer State Games of Michigan as an opportunity for Michigan residents of any age and ability to participate in athletic competition in 40 sports in an Olympic atmosphere,” said Brian Bromley, Huntington Meijer in-store banking director. “Huntington Bank believes in the mission of fostering healthy lifestyles in Michigan, and this celebratory Torch Tour offers a tremendous opportunity to be a part of an outstanding statewide event.”

The torch will leave St. Ignace’s Bridge View Park at 11 a.m. Friday, June 13, and will arrive in Grand Rapids June 20 for the opening ceremonies. Along the way, there will be stops in Traverse City, Midland, Flint, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Lansing.

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