Holland Energy Study Commendable, but Lacking Robust Analysis of Energy Efficiency

The Holland Board of Public Works is holding public comment periods today and tomorrow from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. on it’s recently released benefit-cost analysis of a handful of new energy generating options for the city of Holland.  The studies included the social and environmental costs and benefits as well as the traditional direct financial costs of a range of new energy producing options.  Unfortunately, they lacked an assessment of what could be achieved through similarly scaled investments in energy efficiency and optimization – energy efficiency is by far the cleanest, cheapest, and most quickly deployed source of new energy – energy efficiency is typically 1/3 the cost of energy produced from new facilities.

Check out the Michigan Land Use Institute’s excellent blog summary and analysis of the Holland energy planning process.  Here’s a sample from the article written by Jim Dulzo:

HOLLAND, Mich.—The Holland Board of Public Works released its long-anticipated report comparing the economic, environmental, and social effects of a new coal-fired plant with those of a new natural gas-fired plant, and the news is not good for coal.

The study—the Sustainable Return on Investment Analysis Results (SROI)—finds that using natural gas to meet Holland’s future base-load needs would be cheaper, produce fewer toxic emissions, and release about half the climate-changing greenhouse gases than the coal plant HBPW had proposed.

Now the utility wants to hear what residents think about the study and their town’s energy future, and will host public hearings September 4 and 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel on 24th Street in Holland.

But the SROI study, and the way the municipal utility is gathering comments, worry some clean-energy advocates.

The utility commissioned the SROI to check the economics of Holland’s Community Energy Plan, a 40-year economic development strategy released last fall by the city-appointed Holland Community Sustainability Committee. That committee considered four scenarios for sharply cutting Holland’s greenhouse gas emissions—a broad measure of energy efficiency. Each aimed to slow energy cost increases, make Holland more competitive, increase local employment, and combat climate change.

Consultant Garforth International LLC, which wrote the CEP, and city staff both endorsed “Scenario B,” which calls for cutting single-family home energy use by 53 to 66 percent, all other buildings’ energy use by 30 to 50 percent, and using natural gas and renewables to make electricity.

Some environmental groups and local citizens, however, believe that while the CEP is a good first step, its lack of a clearly stated financing plan for its ambitious efficiency goals makes the SROI analysis premature.

“The math is simple,” said Dr. Martin Kushler, of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, in a Clean Energy Now coalition press release just after the Aug. 8 SROI rollout. “Energy efficiency saves energy at one-third the cost of [producing it with] a new power plant. Holland’s plan should include maximum energy efficiency programs first, before calculating how much new power generation is needed.”


0 replies
  1. Michael S
    Michael S says:

    Holland should consider the Energy Star Commercial Portfolio Manager tool to help baseline and monitor the consumption of energy by commercial buildings.


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