In Holland, Michigan a new power plant is helping to improve urban life. A showcase for economically, socially and environmentally responsible urban infrastructure planning: the Holland Energy Park.
Situated at the eastern gateway of the town, Holland Energy Park illustrates the benefits of bringing vital technological infrastructure right into society: with its CHP technology, snowmelt system and visitor center, the new power plant does much more than just keep the lights on.
In 2011, Holland conceived an innovative Community Energy Plan to act as a guideline for securing a reliable and independent power supply far into the future. Consequently, when planning for a new power station, Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW), a community-owned power supplier, took into account environmental, health and social implications. Communication via Facebook, YouTube, mailings or expert presentations kept citizens in the loop from day one. The result is an outstanding project which has brought the community closer together, securing HBPW’s place at the heart of the city.
What inspired you to take such a holistic approach?
Initially, we were just talking about modernizing the existing coal-powered plant. Turns out there was definitely no appetite for more coal power on a state level. There was a real conflict of interest – yes, we could appreciate where they were coming from but at the same time we wanted to maintain our snowmelt system and the intangibles attached to having coal, such as ships coming into Holland etc. Eventullay we said: let’s step back a bit and look at the whole thing holistically. There must be a way to solve this problem. And that’s when the idea of a Sustainable Return of Investment (SROI) analysis came into play. One of our engineers suggested it.
A new attractive gateway into the city, the Holland Energy Park does much to improve the quality of citizens’ lives. Less harmful emissions, more recreational walking trails and a snowmelt system all have a positive impact on business and everyday life.
The Holland Energy Park goes much further than simply securing power supply for the city: this is a project which has been designed to benefit everyone now and in the future, inviting citizens to come out and enjoy the park or learn about power generation. Perks include direct access to a scenic waterfront and plenty of lawns to play on.
“As a community, we decided that upgrading the power supply was not just about putting up a plant. It was about a culture of maintaining responsibility for our city and for society at large. Getting this project off the ground was really a generational experience, bringing everyone together. We now have reliable and cleaner power with 50% less CO2 emissions. Plus, there’s the new Energy Park to be enjoyed by everyone. The park is good for the future of our city: businesses like it, the community likes it and the stakeholders like it. In fact, I get approached by other cities who want to know how we’ve done it. Working with Siemens Energy has been a real bonus: It’s been a world class partnership with a world class company.”
Nancy de Boer, Mayor of Holland, Michigan
"Holland is a little bit of a town that punches above its weight – it’s pretty small, but it has great retail and a solid community, it has a lot to offer. When they first started building the new power plant I was a bit skeptical, but now I have to say: it really is smart infrastructure at its best. The surrounding park makes for an impressive eastern gateway and the plant’s efficiency allows for an extended snowmelt system. I cannot tell you how important this system is for my business: even in January or February there aren’t any slack times. Customers can easily walk around without struggling through snow or sludge. I know for a fact that other communities are jealous of it."
Bob Schulze, Globe Design & Vision, Business Owner, Michigan
Worldwide, Siemens Energy has worked with countless communities on smart power generation projects.
The project showed the power that we can have when product lines and divisions work together to create “one team” for customers.
Account Manager, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Far from being just a supplier in the background, we got actively involved in supporting the visitor center, was present at ground breaking ceremonies and advertised the project widely. Inside the company the project got a lot of recognition, which Liz is certain helped to make it a success.
As Account Manager, Liz Galea followed the project from initiation through construction and implementation. Liz especially enjoyed the process of working closely with the customer from before any ground had even been broken, discovering new aspects of the project as they went along and together shaping the future of sustainable urban infrastructure in Holland.
Read more in The Magazine: An energy park for the future, built today