The Holland Energy Park is on a 26-acre site near the Windmill Island attraction and the Macatawa Greenway system. Photo by Ehren Wynder
Honoring a 10-year collaborative among environmental activists, business executives and the public, the Holland Board of Public Works celebrated the grand opening of the new Holland Energy Park.
The energy park, which opened Oct. 2, is a natural gas power plant and the latest component of the city’s 40-year plan to become a world-class leader in energy security, affordability and sustainability.
HBPW looked at eight sites around Holland where it could build the plant before deciding on the 26-acre site at 1 Energy Park Way, near the Windmill Island attraction and the Macatawa Greenway system. The site previously was home to an old furnace factory.
“We found this site primarily because of the ability to get fuel into it, the ability to get fuel out of it,” said Dave Koster, HBPW general manager. “It provided enough cumulative space that we could acquire to have room for the plant and enough buffer zone around it.”
HBPW acquired 61 parcels of land consisting of the old furnace factory and the surrounding properties, both owner-occupied and nonowner-occupied.
“We did not have to use condemnation for one acquisition,” Koster said. “We were able to offer a very fair and responsible price for acquiring those properties.”
An environmental assessment conducted on the 61 properties found some areas that had soil contamination, a couple of underground storage tanks and about 30 years worth of concrete sidewalks that had been ripped up and replaced.
Environmental Resource Management provided consulting on cleanup of the site. HBPW contracted Bierlein, a demolition company out of Midland, to provide demolition for any existing structures.
During the site cleanup, HBPW recycled any materials that could be reused. Contractors recovered more than 350 tires, 2,500 yards of concrete and 1,100 tons of asbestos.
“That took about a year,” said Dan Nally, HBPW business services director. “Then we had a site that was environmentally stable, clean and ready for us to begin construction.”
The plant has a staff of approximately 30 full-time employees and covers nearly 130,000 square feet. At full capacity, it is capable of generating 145 megawatts of power in the winter and 125 megawatts in the summer. The plant also features a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions, virtually eliminates solid particle pollutants and doubles the fuel efficiency of Holland’s past power generation.
The cost of the project was $240 million. HBPW already had $100 million allocated for the project and generated the rest with approximately $160 million in revenue bonds.
The stars of the power plant are two Siemens SGT-800 internal gas turbines, which burn natural gas. The exhaust from the turbines goes into the plant’s heat recovery steam generators.
Siemens also provided the steam turbines, generators, transformers, some electrical gear and the control systems for the plant.
“I’m really impressed by the way the city and the bureau put this plant together,” said Barry Nicholls, Siemens senior vice president of sales and head of the power and gas division for the United States. “Every possible neighborly thing they could consider they’ve considered, whether it’s emissions, views, vegetation or noise emissions.”
The plant has a self-imposed sound limit of 50 decibels at the property boundaries, which Nally said is very quiet for a power plant. The plant also features light attenuation to reduce the amount of light pollution generated during operation, as well as semi-translucent glass windows to prevent birds from flying into them.
The plant also heats water for the city’s snowmelt system, which was another consideration for the location of the property. The plant is able to heat water for about 2.5 million square feet of snowmelt.
Nally said the energy park fulfills three core functions: to be a world-class resource for sustainable and long-term energy; to enhance the eastern gateway to Holland along Chicago Drive; and to be an educational and recreational destination for residents and visitors.
The energy park has an interactive visitor’s center featuring 3,780 square feet of exhibit space, which highlights the history and science behind power generation. The exhibit area was designed by Design Minds Inc., a Fairfax, Virginia, design firm, which also has designed exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution.
Outside of the plant are 20 acres of land with 0.75 miles of walking trails that eventually will connect Windmill Island Gardens to the Macatawa Greenway trail system.
The Holland Energy Park received the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision Platinum award, making it the first baseload power generating plant in the country to receive an Envision rating.
Envision is a verification process designed to rate the sustainability of infrastructure. The process measures five categories: quality of life, leadership, natural world, resource allocation, and climate and risk. The categories measure the positive social, economic and environmental impacts in a community throughout the planning, design and construction of infrastructure projects.