Peter Boogaart knows exactly what he’ll do when he retires later this month. The longtime Holland-area resident is leaving the Ottawa County Community Action Agency after six years of helping low-income families tighten up their homes to cut their often budget-crushing energy bills. Now the 66-year-old home efficiency veteran will ramp up his already strong volunteer involvement in the Holland Community Energy Plan’s home efficiency retrofit project, which aims to cut gas and electric consumption of each of the city’s 7,000-plus homes by up to 50 percent over 40 years.
Holland, Michigan’s forward-looking Community Energy Plan is steadily gaining momentum and public support for transforming an old Lake Michigan port city into a world-class clean energy champion.
Officials and dozens of residents in Holland, Mich., are working to implement a Community Energy Plan after the city began approving work groups for the effort in August 2012. The CEP, would, among many other things, expand the snowmelt district and channel waste heat to nearby commercial buildings. The 40-year strategy calls for cutting the community’s energy consumption by up to 60 percent and moving HBPW to cheaper, cleaner natural gas and non-polluting wind and solar power.
Four different communities-in Virginia, Michigan, and Ontario-have reached the same conclusion: When it comes to making and using energy, it’s time to replace business-as-usual with breakthrough innovation. But each community is also traveling a somewhat different path to a better energy future. Here’s a look at three community energy plans in action.
In an historic vote, the Holland City Council has pre-empted longstanding plans to build a highly controversial coal plant in the city and, instead, approved a natural gas-fired power plant that will likely provide more power than the town actually needs.