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Sims Generating Station to officially cease operations Thursday

The Board of Light and Power's J.B. Sims plant is burning the last of its coal Wednesday, Feb. 12, and will officially cease operations Thursday, Feb. 13.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — The Board of Light & Power's J.B. Sims Generating Station on Harbor Island is burning through its final pile of coal Wednesday, Feb. 12, and expects to cease plant operations sometime early Thursday, Feb. 13.

The BLP is progressing through its Strategic Plan objective to transition from coal to a more sustainable, economical and diversified power supply portfolio.

"The Board approved ceasing operations of the Sims Power Plant on June 1, 2020 at its April 2018 meeting, and City Council ratified this decision at their November 2018 meeting," said General Manager David Walters. "Transition efforts to move the utility to a diversified power supply portfolio began and the Board has now successfully burned through approximately $6.8 million dollars of coal inventory that was on its dock in late 2018."

"This achievement could not have happened without the dedicated efforts of the many Sims employees, who have been working short staffed over the last several months due to reductions in its workforce created through attrition."

"We set a goal to shut the plant down after we have burned through all inventory to ensure the utility would not sustain further financial losses," added Gerald Witherell, Board of Light & Power vice chair. "Plant employees should be commended for their efforts to continue running a power plant that has reached the end of its useful life."

Following the shutdown, the BLP will purchase 100% of its power supply through the Michigan Public Power Agency, as it has done for many years during planned and forced outages. 

BLP staff is also in the process of evaluating longer-term options and the installation of smaller backup natural gas-fired generation on Harbor Island that may make economic sense to supplement and complement purchases from MPPA.

The BLP awarded the Sims demolition contract to Bierlein Companies, Inc. in the amount of $5,053,333. Decommissioning efforts will begin following the plant shutdown with demolition and site remediation efforts will begin in earnest beginning June 1.

RELATED: County snow plow drivers take on other road work during mild winter

Grand Haven's snowmelt system heat will be supplied by the plant's auxiliary boiler for the remaining portion of this winter. Longer-term solutions are currently being considered.

The Board of Light and Power produces and distributes electricity for approximately 14,500 customers in Grand Haven and the surrounding area. 

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