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Michigan town shuts power plant after running out of coal

Boulder, Colorado — The Grand Haven, Michigan, Board of Light and Power is shutting down early its 69-MW coal-fired J.B. Sims plant.

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The plant was initially slated to cease operations by June. But officials with the city of Grand Haven, which owns the plant, said in a February 12 news release it ran out of the $6.8 million supply of coal that had been in stock since late 2018.

The Grand Haven City Council in November 2018 unanimously approved a plan to shut down the third and last operating unit of the power plant, located on Harbor Island, following a study that found the city would need $35 million over five years to safely operate it. The first unit went into service in 1961, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The unit subject to closure came online in 1983, according to the data.

The utility board, known as the BLP, will purchase 100% of its power supply from the Michigan Public Power Agency, and it is evaluating whether to install small, backup natural gas generators "that may make economic sense to supplement and complement purchases from MPPA," the BLP said. The power agency, which supplies electricity, transmission and energy services to 22 members, has a contract for 80 MW from solar facility expected to be in service by the end of this year.

The city has entered into a $5 million contract with a company to demolish the plant starting in June, officials said. The BLP has roughly 14,500 customers in and around Grand Haven.

Coal, at 41.8%, was the top fuel for electric generation in the state in 2019, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission