HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- Holland could soon be one of many areas across the country getting an economic boost from the natural gas boom. A new report shows a direct link between natural gas production and a spike in salaries in small communities across America, especially in the nation's mid-section. On Wednesday, Holland's city council could decide whether to build a new natural gas plant, which would replace the existing coal power facility.
Much of the city's energy is used on 48th Street, where there are a number of commercial businesses. That is where much of the city's energy is used.
"82%of our demand comes from commercial and industrial users," says David Koster, General Manager for the Holland Board of Public Works.
Koster wants to keep those customers and add new ones by replacing coal energy by building a $280 million natural gas plant. He says that will help lower rates in the future.
"The type of resource we're building is very efficient," says Koster. "It is more efficient than coal fire generation."
The Holland BPW looked at a number of other energy options to see which was the most efficient before making a final decision. One of the options was building a new coal power plant.
However, the BPW says that over a 25-year period coal power would cost 12% more than natural gas and buying energy from another utility would be 15% higher. Overall, the natural gas plant is expected to save the BPW $10 millionper year. Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra says environmental regulations are another reason to make the switch.
"Theidea of building a coal plant in theUnited Statesright now is not a very viable one," says Mayor Dykstra.
Mayor Dykstra says building a natural gas plant will allow the city to have control over its energy costs.
"It is more economically advantageous for us if we're able to control more of our costs and expenses, by having a substantial part of our portfolio generated at home," says Mayor Dykstra.
"That'sgoing to be something businesses look at in terms of where they want to grow andwhere they want to locate," says Koster.
The BPW eventually plans to close the existing coal plant, but no date has been set. The BPW has not chosen a location yet for the proposed natural gas plant. If approved, it is expected to start operating in 2016.