December 19, 2013

Holland to Cease Burning Coal at James De Young Power Plant

December 18, 2013
Alison Flowers, Sierra Club, 303-246-6297,
Tiffany Hartung, Sierra Club, 231-747-7489,

Holland to Cease Burning Coal at James De Young Power Plant

Holland residents to benefit from improved environmental quality, affordable energy

HOLLAND, Mich. – Today the City of Holland and the Holland Board of Public Works have announced an agreement with the Sierra Club to cease burning coal at the three remaining coal-burning units at the nearly 75-year-old James De Young power plant. This settlement resolves all pending litigation between Sierra Club and the City of Holland.

The city, which owns the plant, had originally obtained an air permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to expand the plant’s coal-burning capabilities. A multi-year review, however, showed a rapidly changing economic outlook and prompted the city to move toward a cleaner, more affordable energy future. Holland also negotiated an agreement with the Sierra Club, the largest and oldest grassroots environmental organization in the country, to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at the James De Young facility.

“This is a critical move toward Holland’s energy future,” said Jan O’Connell, energy issues organizer for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “We applaud the city’s decision to protect public health and the environment.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Holland’s biggest coal-fired electric generating unit will cease burning coal in 2016. The two remaining smaller units will gradually reduce their coal use beginning in 2020 and will completely cease burning coal by 2024.

Air pollution modeling conducted by the Sierra Club in 2011 showed the James De Young power plant was emitting pollution at 3.5 times the limit that the EPA says is required to protect public health. Thanks to the actions Holland is taking, the community can expect to experience fewer asthma attacks and ER visits, as well as heart- and lung-related ailments.

Independent of the agreement with the Sierra Club, Holland has taken several steps on its own to move beyond coal, most notably signing two power purchase agreements for wind energy, including one with a wind facility under construction in Gratiot County, Michigan. The Sierra Club applauded Holland for its wind energy purchases.

“I am relieved that the coal plant issue is settled,” said Larry Spitzley, Holland resident and Sierra Club member. “It should now be easier to focus on the Holland Community Energy Plan. I’m especially excited about part of the plan that may make energy audits and affordable improvements available to people here. We’re on the way to becoming a world-leading, energy efficient city.”

The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign aims to replace coal with clean energy like wind, solar and energy efficiency.


Jan O'Connell
Development Director and
MI Beyond Coal ~ Clean Energy Campaign
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
Phone: (616) 956-6646

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