James De Young Generation Station Expansion

From Global Energy Monitor

The James De Young Generation Station Expansion is a proposal by the Holland City Council and the Holland Board of Public Works for the expansion of the 11 megawatt (MW) James DeYoung Coal Plant[1] with a 78 MW boiler, fueled by coal.[2] The proposal was announced on April 2, 2008. On its website the Holland Board of Public Works states that the "James De Young Generation Station consists of three coal fired electrical generating units. The first was completed in 1953 and the third in 1968. The three electrical generating units range in size from 11 megawatts to 29.5 megawatts. The plant has the capability of generating 60 megawatts of electricity. The three electrical generating units are referred to as Units 3, 4, & 5. The James De Young Generation Station also houses Units 1 & 2, which have been retired from service."[3]

At the end of 2008, Sierra Club filed suit in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, alleging the existing plant has violated the federal Clean Air Act.[4] The suit claims the Holland Board of Public Works, which operates the plant, has made modifications it over 40 years to keep it operating without installing required modern controls that would limit emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants. The Board of Public works responded by calling the suit "hogwash", questioning the timing of the suit, and that fighting the suit would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.[5]

The Holland area is traditionally conservative[6] and Republican. The local media has been generally in support of the project and coal in general, as this column, an opinion from the Heritage Foundation, demonstrates.[7]

Sequestration Project Cancelled

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided not to extend a $380 million federal grant for a carbon-capture project in Holland. According to the Holland Sentinel, the decision "eliminates the leading motivation for the Holland Board of Public Works to expand its James De Young Power Plant by constructing a new 78 megawatt generator."[8] According to the paper, "Now, with the carbon-capture option off the table and Michigan mired in a deep and prolonged recession, can such a major expansion be justified? Estimates of future power demand made just a few years ago now seem outdated."[9]

The expansion had been named as a proposed test bed for new carbon sequestration technology, to be provided by Praxair Inc.[10]

According to the Holland Sentinel, "Praxair was one company seeking U.S. Department of Energy Clean Coal Power Initiative grants to test full-scale carbon capture and sequestration. It was estimated a grant for a 78-megawatt boiler project at the Holland Board of Public Works’ plant would have been about $150 million."[11]

The Holland facility had been in competition with another project in Jamestown, NY, for the same DOE grant for demonstrating this technology. In July, 2009, the Holland application was rejected, but, the Grand Rapids News reported that "carbon-sequestration project at the James DeYoung Power Plant could be regaining momentum, due to studies[12] that showed the Michigan site had more promising geological formations. "[13] A recent report in the Buffalo (NY) News indicated that the Jamestown, NY site has drawn significant citizen opposition[14] leaving Holland as the leading competitor for this project.[15]

Favorable Geology in Michigan has been getting attention at the Department of Energy, and in August, 2009, The Holland Sentinel reported that the DOE had approved a 3.7 million dollar grant for the "geology of the Mt. Simon sandstone fairway in the Michigan Basin here and how to most efficiently store carbon and develop a regional storage strategy."

The paper quotes DOE documents as indicating "“The Mt. Simon Sandstone in southwestern Michigan represents one of the most significant formations for CO2 storage in the Midwestern U.S,..”.[16]

According to the paper, if Holland had been selected, engineering and design work would have taken place in 2011 with construction to be completed by late 2014. The paper quoted the utility's General Manager, Loren Howard, saying that "The BPW is considering several locations where carbon dioxide gas could be stored, including Tulip City Airport and the utility's electric generating facility on 48th Street.."[17]

According to the report , recent study of Michigan's geology had indicated the site was so favorable as to merit further review. According to the article, Chris Guild, Praxair director of business development, recently told the BPW, ""Holland sits on one of the best geologic formations that have been identified for its porosity and ability to store carbon dioxide." The article continued, "Holland was considered PraxAir's second choice -- behind a Jamestown, New York proposal -- but has moved up because of its geological formations and perceived financial support." Further details were submitted to the Department of Energy, including specifics of the 15 million dollars needed for engineering studies. Following discussions, the BPW approved letters of support for the sequestration project.[18]

Public misgivings about the project remained.[19]

The Michigan area is well suited to possible carbon sequestration, due to the availability of underground caverns and aquifers that could offer long term geological storage.[20] However, any such process would add 40 to 60 percent to the cost of generation.[11]

The Department of Energy is conducting tests in Otswego County to learn more about Michigan Geology and the prospects for carbon sequestering in the state.[21][22]

Seismic Tests check Michigan for Storage potential

Cross-well seismic imaging was conducted at the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership's sequestration site near Gaylord, Michigan, in October 2007. Performed before and after CO2 injection, this geophysical technique creates underground images that can be used to monitor the fate of the CO2 plume and ensure its permanent storage.[23]

This injection well, 10 miles east of Gaylord on Sparr Road is the state’s only test site for carbon sequestration. Besides Gaylord, the Midwest region includes a site in Ohio and Kentucky. Though the test research is primarily sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, energy companies, universities and geological study groups have invested in the project as well.[24]

Wind Development - Real or Diversion?

In September 2008, the Holland Board of Public Works announced the purchase of a 1500 acre tract of land in Michigan's upper peninsula for the purpose of building a potential wind farm.[25] While environmentalists support wind development in principle, many have expressed caution in this case, in that this decision was made without any prior notice, without details on what this proposal is, without any indication that the HBPW has considered other wind options close by (they are actually located near the coastline of Lake Michigan, making this a prime area for considering local wind development).[26] Coal activists point out that developing renewables in an irresponsible manner may pose a threat to demonstrating that renewables are cost effective and smart.[citation needed]

In a recent hearing on conservation and renewable energy plans, members of the public encouraged HBP to go further and be more pro-active in promoting energy alternatives.[27]

MACT Application

In July 2008, the Holland Board of Public Works completed its air permit application by turning in its revised MACT determinations to the Michigan DEQ. There is no timeline for when the draft air permit may be issued.[28]

Coal Bottleneck to Continue

All Michigan coal plants will depend to some degree on coal from the Powder River Basin(PRB) in Wyoming. On August 26, 2009, The Dakota Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. put on hold a massive new proposed coal rail line meant to transport coal from the PRB to points east.[29]

The $6 billion railroad from the Wyoming coal fields to the Mississippi River, was meant to open up markets for another 100 million tons of coal annually. For comparison, this would be enough coal to power 50 medium size coal plants which when burned would have emitted 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (think 40 million cars).

DEQ asks for More Details

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has asked for all applicants to show that they have considered all possible alternatives to coal power in their considerations.[30]

De Young loses bid for federal funds

The De Young Generating Station did not receive the $380 million federal grant it requested to fund carbon capture and storage at the plant. The Holland Board of Public Works said it would continue to pursue a plant expansion.[31]

July 2010 Report calls for greater Holland consideration of alternatives

In a July 2010 report exploring its energy future, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) said the Holland Board of Public Works (BPW) has underestimated renewable energy options and other alternatives to expanding the coal-fired power plant in downtown Holland. MPSC soundly criticized the BPW’s alternatives analysis for its proposed expansion of the coal-fired James DeYoung power plant, saying it’s “under-estimating the potential impact of energy efficiency in future years, coupled with an overly optimistic load forecast results in a projected capacity need which may not fully materialize.” The report suggested the BPW look further into a combined-cycle natural gas plant, purchased power options, energy efficiency and load management, and renewable generation resources to fulfill all or part of its future energy needs.[32]

The report calls the BPW’s estimates of available renewable energy too low and “sometimes plainly incomplete” and says the BPW overestimates how much renewable energy will cost in the future. It also suggested the BPW look at buying more than 10 percent of its power as the alternatives analysis suggests.[32]

According to BPW: “This is merely a staff report and not a denial of our air permit, which has been pending for 3.5 years. The James De Young retirement and construction project is one option among several being evaluated.” The city council and BPW are the ones responsible for “evaluating risk and making financial decisions,” the statement goes on. BPW staff plan to release a more detailed statement once they have read the 79 page report.[32]

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law 2008 Public Act 286, which requires all utilities, including public utilities to obtain certificates of necessity from the commission. Although the commission doesn’t have power over public utilities, the report will be forwarded to the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment before the DNRE would approve an air permit for any plant expansions.[32]

The Sierra Club is suing the BPW on the upgrades to the existing James DeYoung plant. When the commission staff tried to clarify information in the BPW’s alternatives analysis, responses were not helpful, the report says, pointing to the company the BPW used to create the alternatives analysis, Black & Veatch, and its reliance on “proprietary databases.” “The lack of transparency in the HBPW prevents a closer examination of all of the underlying assumptions. Staff believes this is a serious concern which demands particular attention,” the report states.[32]

February 20100: DNR approves plant

On Feb. 11, 2011, the Department of Natural Resources said Holland's Board of Public Works can build the James De Young Generation Station Expansion. The agency said earlier that week that it expects to also approve a new coal plant in Rogers City, the Wolverine Clean Energy Venture. Both plants had been denied air-quality permits last year under an order issued by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who ordered the agency to assess the need for new electric power and whether there were ways to produce it other than coal, which produces greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Both plants failed the need test, and the state found that the new plants would raise customers' rates. The companies appealed and, in separate decisions in December 2010 and February 2011, local judges said the agency couldn't legally use need as a factor in deciding air permits. The plants still must meet new coal regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that took effect Jan. 2, 2011.[33]

Project Details

Sponsor: Holland Board of Public Works
Location: Holland, Michigan
Capacity: 78 MW
Projected in service:
Status: Active

Contact Details

625 Hastings Avenue
Holland, MI 49423
Phone: 616-355-1500
Website: http://www.hollandbpw.com/

Articles and Resources


  1. philgoblue, "Holland BPW: Expanding the Coal Plants of the Past or Building New Alternative Energy Systems," West Michigan Rising, April 4, 2008.
  2. Here's the How and Why of your Electricity"Andrea Goodell, The Holland Sentinel, Feb. 25, 2009"
  3. Holland Board of Public Works, "Electric Generation" Holland Board of Public Works website, accessed July 2008.
  4. "Sierra Club sues DeYoung power plant in Holland over emissions" "The Grand Rapids Press" December 15, 2008.
  5. "Holland Board of Public Works manager calls Sierra Club lawsuit over DeYoung power plant 'hogwash'" "The Grand Rapids Press' December 17, 2008
  6. Higher rates ahead"Letter, The Holland Sentinel, May 26, 2009"
  7. Cap and Trade, Sure Economy Killer"Ed Feulner, The Holland Sentinel, May 28, 2009"
  8. "Our view - Carbon capture’s done, debate over power is not""Holland Sentinel, December 9, 2009"
  9. "Our view - Carbon capture’s done, debate over power is not""Holland Sentinel, December 9, 2009"
  10. "City of Holland may seek grant for clean coal-burning power plant," 'Jeremy Gonsior, The Holland Sentinel, August 18, 2008"
  11. 11.0 11.1 Andrea Goodell, "What is carbon sequestration? Experts explain technology Holland is considering for James De Young Power Plant," The Holland Sentinel, August 27, 2008.
  12. Holland BPW, council endorse experimental carbon disposal project"Andrea Goodell, The Holland Sentinel, August 19, 2009"
  13. Carbon sequestration plan for Holland's James De Young Power Plant Gains momentum"Greg Chandler, The Grand Rapids Press, August 12, 2009"
  14. Power from "Clean" Jamestown Power Plant could cost 10 times NYPA Rate"Clean Energy for Jamestown, September 17, 2009"
  15. Scuttling the Coal Plant"The Buffalo News, August 21, 2009"]
  16. Grant issued for Carbon Capture Study"Andrea Goodell, The Holland Sentinel, September 16, 2009"
  17. Grant issued for Carbon Capture Study"Andrea Goodell, The Holland Sentinel, September 16, 2009"
  18. Holland BPW, council endorse experimental carbon disposal project"Andrea Goodell, The Holland Sentinel, August 19, 2009"
  19. My Take - There is no Clean Coal Burning"Martin Dugan, Holland Sentinel, August 18, 2009"
  20. "Editorial: Capturing carbon in West Michigan," mlive.com, November 5, 2008.
  21. "Carbon Capture: Real, or Just Blowing Smoke?," Great Lakes Bulletin News Service, October 27, 2008.
  22. "Pumping CO2 deep under Gaylord," Bay City Times, February 22, 2008.
  23. "Carbon Sequestration Partner Initiates CO2 Injection into Michigan Basin""NETL, February 18, 2008."
  24. "Sparr-ing over removing greenhouse gases; placing them below ground""Gaylord Herald Times, February 23, 2008."
  25. "Holland utility buys option for U.P. land for possible $140 million wind farm," Grand Rapids Press, September 24, 2008.
  26. "Studies Lift Hopes for Great Lakes Wind Turbine Farms," Washington Post, October 7, 2008.
  27. Public Encourages BPW to do more with Energy"Andrea Goodell, The Holland Sentinel, March 19, 2009"
  28. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club, accessed November 2008. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  29. DM&E drops condemnation against Wyo landowners; railroad suspends Powder River Basin project"Dustin Bleizeffer, Caspar Star Tribune, August 26, 2009"
  30. DEQ demands alternative analysis to coal plant Andrea Goodell, "The Holland Sentinel"February 26, 2009"
  31. "Holland works toward power plant expansion despite losing grant for emissions control," Grand Rapid Press, December 9, 2009.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 Andrea Goodell, "State review criticizes Holland power plant proposal" The Holland Sentinel, July 8, 2010.
  33. "New coal plant approved" Detroit Free Press, Feb. 12, 2011.

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