West Michigan Environmental Action Council and the Holland Community Energy Advisory Group have launched an educational effort in support of the Holland Community Energy Plan.
The City of Holland recently released a report prepared by consulting firm Garforth International detailing a long range, balanced and world-class energy strategy for the Holland community. The plan includes four scenarios with varying levels of public and environmental costs that will require community input to determine the preferred course of action. Through its grassroots effort, WMEAC and the CEAG hope to dramatically increase the number of Holland citizens participating in this input process.
“It’s vitally important for Holland’s citizens and stakeholders to learn about what’s happening through this process,” said Rachel Hood, executive director of WMEAC, West Michigan’s preeminent environmental education and advocacy group. “These are decisions that will literally be affecting Holland for a lifetime. And we’ll start seeing the impacts of those decisions almost immediately.”
Holland’s projected growth in population and industrial productivity over the next 40 years could mean a increase of 75 percent increase in energy requirements. In 2010, Holland’s industry, businesses and residents spent $135 million on energy, including electricity, natural gas, diesel and gasoline. Opportunities presented in the Community Energy Plan could save Holland $40 million per year, while allowing the community to maintain its energy independence.
“We came together around this plan because everyone realized how important energy is to the long-term health of our community,” said Don Triezenberg, chair of the CEAG, a citizen coalition of Holland community and business leaders. “We believe that Holland is a community where, when properly educated, people try hard to make the right decisions. This has been a topic where, it seems, people are only talking about a few things and not the whole issue. We’re trying to fix that.”
Hood explained that a robust community conversation is necessary to comprehensively address Holland’s energy future, one that does not focus solely on specific fuel types and individual power plants and that maximizes energy efficiency – the cleanest and cheapest ‘source’ of new energy. More than any other community issue, she said, energy decisions will have a long range and ‘permanent’ effect on our families, businesses and city budget, affecting the economic development, health and environment of our community.
The YOUR CITY, YOUR DECISION initiative launched last week with the insertion of a four-page informational brochure in the Holland Sentinel and the launch of the Holland’s Energy Future web site at yourcityyourdecision.com. Copies of the brochure are available for distribution at events and meetings by request. Supporters of the initiative include Dwelltech Solutions, GMB Architecture + Engineering, Charter House Innovations, Great Lake Woods, Inc., Quality Oil Co. and Dwelltech Solutions.
“You need to stay ahead of the curve in order to compete and thrive, and Holland is taking steps to do just that,” said Charles Reid, President of Charter House | innovations. “We’re glad to be a part of it!”