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Holland needs air permit for new natural gas plant

Liesl Clark said Michigan is taking more older, coal-fired power plants offline because they are uneconomical to run.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
The new natural gas plant will replace the DeYoung coal plant in Holland.

The City of Holland wants to get an air permit so it can build a new natural gas-fired power plant.

People have until Wednesday to tell the state’s Department of Environmental Quality what they think of the plans.

The roughly $200 million dollar power plant would help replace the city’s 70 year old DeYoung coal plant.

The gas plant could have double the capacity, between 115 and 130 megawatts. New federal regulations are forcing many power companies and municipal utilities to move away from coal.

Dan Nally is with Holland’s Board of Public Works. He’s responsible for getting the new natural gas project built. He says the city considered several options to replace the aging coal plant.

“It looked at not building anything and buying off the market,” Nally said, “At the end of the analysis the most sustainable option was to build this size gas-fired power plant.”

Holland has also signed contracts to purchase more than 30 megawatts from wind farms in mid-Michigan and Indiana. Nally is happy with the city’s “fairly balanced portfolio.” It has part ownership stakes in two other coal plants and contracts for gas produced at a landfill.

Nally hopes to have the new gas plant online by October 2016.

There are no immediate plans for the old coal plant. It has a prominent spot near downtown Holland on Lake Macatawa.

“Right now with the cost of coal being what it is and the cost of gas being significantly lower, quite frankly DeYoung hasn’t run much in the last year,” Nally said.

A few years ago Holland sued the state to get an air permit for an new coal burner at DeYoung. It has since scrapped those plans.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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