Welcome to our 2012 Annual Report

Last year we looked at how each of our utilities works.

This year, we wanted to go one step further—to show you how each of the Holland Board of Public Works’ utilities provides functions in the context of our community and what we’ve done in the past year to make them even more valuable assets.

Let's get started. Flip the switch to power up Holland or jump ahead using the menu above.


Holland's Future is Bright

In September of 2011 we launched our P21 (Power for the 21st Century) Initiative with one goal: to find the best possible answer to the question of how to keep Holland’s lights on in the decades to come. In partnership with HDR, a global consulting firm with offices in Ann Arbor, MI and Toronto, ON, we conducted a Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) study, which looked at a variety of plausible options for meeting Holland’s growing base load energy demand.

SROI is a unique analysis process that evaluates each option based on its social, environmental, health, and economic costs. Our SROI analysis looked at a number of potential ways of providing power to our community—everything from purchasing power exclusively from the grid to an energy portfolio that included coal-fired generation and renewable energies like wind and solar.

Holland has a longstanding history of innovation. Our fiber network, which was installed in the early 90s to improve communication between substations, was one of the first of its kind, and our downtown snowmelt system runs on excess heat from generation at our James DeYoung facility. New local generation in Holland will open the doors to a number of other innovative programs that could make Holland more sustainable—things like an expansion of our snowmelt system beyond downtown and the implementation of district heating.

Use the interactive tool below to explore the most attractive scenarios from our SROI analysis and what each one could mean for our community.

In all scenarios the 10 MW Unit 3 at James DeYoung (JDY) generating station is retired.

Click through the tabs below to learn about some of the new technologies we considered in the SROI process.

  • Combined Cycle Natural Gas
  • CFB
  • CHP
  • Biomass
  • Digester

Combined Cycle Natural Gas (CCNG)

In a CCNG system, two turbines work in tandem to generate electricity. The first—in this case, a natural gas turbine—generates electricity and exhaust heat from that combustion is used to turn a second turbine, which is typically a steam turbine. This reuse of excess heat provides much more efficient generation than is provided by a natural gas turbine alone.

HDR’s SROI analysis considered two CCNG models: the LM2500, which is capable of generating 78 MW, and the LM6000, which is capable of generating 114 MW.

Circulating Fluidized Bed Boiler (CFB)

CFB is a technology used to achieve a cleaner, more efficient combustion of a wide variety of fuels, including coal, petroleum coke, anthracite, biomass, and more.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

Combined Heat and Power is the simultaneous production of power and heat from a single fuel source. First, a gas turbine generates electricity. The exhaust from that process passes through a Waste Heat Recovery Boiler, which uses it to heat water. That water is then distributed either as hot water or steam to neighboring businesses, who use it to heat their businesses or to facilitate manufacturing processes.


Biomass is a renewable energy source that comes from garbage, wood, waste, landfill gases, and alcohol fuels. Woody biomass may include anything from dead trees and branches, yard clippings or wood chips to solid waste from wood and paper industries.

Digester Gas

Digester gas units are a source of renewable energy that use gaseous fuel produced as organic matter, such as solid waste from our wastewater treatment plant, breaks down. Combustion of the gas powers an electric generator, producing power, while exhaust heat from the process is used to facilitate the digestion process, producing more fuel.

New local generation isn’t the only way we’re meeting our energy needs. This year, the HBPW invested in Ohio’s AMP Fremont Energy Center. This ultra-efficient combined cycle generating facility runs intermittently—from 12-16 hours a day—to help meet demand during peak hours and helps maintain our low cost of service while also guaranteeing clean, reliable power for our customers.

This investment in our future is in addition to investments in renewable sources like wind and biomass. The HBPW has and will continue to exceed renewable-energy requirements as we look for cost effective ways of increasing our alternative-energy portfolio.

In addition to looking for new sources of renewable energy, the HBPW maintains a strong commitment to efficiency and conservation. We have aggressively increased our energy optimization programs in recent years, working with businesses and residents across the community to help them use less energy, and to make sure the energy they do use is used as efficiently as possible. Also this year we began a time-of-use (TOU) pilot program, which allows residential customers the opportunity to save money and energy by using power during off-peak hours and limiting use during hours in which demand is high. It’s too soon to tell how well it’ll be received, but we’re excited to see what happens.

The results of the SROI study, alongside last year’s Community Energy Plan and the voice of our community, will inform our formal recommendation to the Holland City Council in late 2012 on which option is best for our community.

To learn more about P21, visit: http://p21decision.com

Turn the faucet to get the water flowing

Our Most Important Assets are Liquid.

We live on the shores of the largest freshwater reservoir in the world, but that doesn’t mean that efficiency and conservation are any less important.

Answer the following questions below to estimate how much water you use each day.

How many showers do you take each week?

0     1      2     3      4      5      6     7      8      9     10

The average American takes 5 showers each week.

On average, how long does your shower take? (Minutes)

0     4      8    12    16    20    24    28    32    36    40

The average American’s shower averages 8 minutes in length.

In addition to showers, how many baths do you take each week?

0     1      2     3      4      5      6     7      8      9     10

The average American takes less than one bath per week.


How many loads of laundry do you do each week?

0     1      2     3      4      5      6     7      8      9     10

The average American does 2.6 loads of laundry per week.


How many times do you run your dishwasher each week?

0     1      2     3      4      5      6     7      8      9     10

The average American runs his dishwasher just under once per week.


How many loads of dishes do you wash by hand each week?

0     1      2     3      4      5      6     7      8      9     10


Do you also water your yard?



How big is your yard?



Do you have a pool?




You Use an Average of XX Gallons of Water Each Day
That's XX More than the national average of 100 Gallons!

Water Usage


For tips on bringing that number down even further, visit http://www.hollandbpw.com/water/Pages/WaterConservation.aspx.

*This can't be used to esimate your bill. Calculations are based on averages. Actual water usage can vary based on other factors.

As Holland continues to expand, our need for additional clean water is growing. But expansion of our own treatment capabilities isn’t always the best option.

This year we began construction on a 4.7 mile, 30-inch water transmission main interconnect with the City of Wyoming. We expect the project to be complete in the coming year. In the short-term, it could be a supplemental water source while we explore further expansion. In the long-term, it means more reliable service for our customers.

Flush the toilet to clean things up.

A Different Kind
of Aerobics

We recently completed our Headworks improvement project, which began in 2010 and has radically improved the efficiency of our plant. We’ve already realized a wealth of benefits from the project—greater hydraulic capacity and reduced maintenance costs for starters—and it’s opened the door for further improvements down the road.

Influent enters our wastewater treatment plant at our
Headworks facility.


This first two-stage process is where a wide variety of materials are removed from the waste stream.

The Headworks facility is designed to remove larger inorganic materials from the waste stream that could otherwise damage downstream equipment.

Stage 1: At this stage, a series of screens removes solids larger than ¼” in diameter—things like fabric cloths, paper towels, baby wipes, flushable wipes, feminine hygiene applicators, prophylactics, plastic bags, and anything else that finds its way into the waste stream.

Stage 2: Sand and gravel may enter the waste stream in a number of ways: at the car wash, through gaps on manhole castings, through leaky mains, and even from your shower after a trip to the beach. The grit removal system at our Headworks facility is designed to remove these finer heavy solids from the waste stream.

After larger particulates have been removed, influent is split between four primary clarifiers—essentially large settling basins. Here, chemical coagulants help mid-sized organic and inorganic particles to clump and settle.


So what’s removed? Chemical coagulants help to remove phosphorus from the influent, as well as heavier inorganic and organic materials, which settle to the bottom of the tanks and are removed for processing. Processed solids are used for fertilizer on area farm fields or disposed of in a local landfill. The settling process also helps fats, oils, and greases separate from the rest of the waste stream so that they can be removed, concentrated, and disposed of separately. Fats, oils, and greases enter the sewer system when poured down drains as well as from poorly maintained grease traps in restaurants and other businesses.

Aeration: Secondary Treatment

When mid-sized organic and inorganic materials have been removed, the influent is aerated to create an oxygen rich environment in which the right microorganisms can thrive, allowing for effective secondary aerobic treatment. Without aeration, secondary treatment and removal of any remaining solids is impossible.

The aerobic process that our wastewater treatment plant employs is great at cleaning the wastewater stream before it’s returned to Lake Macatawa, but it does little to remove most harmful chemicals and solvents. These compounds could potentially kill the microorganisms that do most of the work, effectively shutting down our plant—requiring an expensive re-seeding using activated sludge from another facility. To help eliminate these harmful compounds from the waste stream before they jeopardize our facility, the HBPW partners with businesses across the community for industrial pretreatment programs to dispose of these and other harmful waste products properly.

Secondary Treatment Part II

Remaining organic and inorganic solids settle to the bottom of the tanks and are removed. A large portion of the removed solids are returned to the aeration basins to replenish the microorganism populations performing the treatment and the remainder is disposed of as biosolids. These biosolids are processed and used for fertilizer on area farm fields or disposed of in a local landfill. Any floatables are skimmed from the surface and returned to the head of the plant for retreatment.

The microorganisms grown in the aeration basin form flocculant masses which allow for the settling of remaining solids.


In its final stage of purification, effluent is disinfected with sodium hypochlorite—bleach. This clean water is recycled to be used as coolant in our James DeYoung Generating Facility before being returned to Lake Macatawa.

By the time effluent reaches the disinfection stage of the wastewater treatment process, it’s already free of solid waste. However, sodium hypochlorite kills any bacteria that remain in the waste stream, including fecal coliform bacteria.

This year, our wastewater treatment facility maintained removal rates of 98% Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), 96% of Total Suspended Solids (TSS), and 93% of phosphorous—all substantially better than are required by the EPA.

The water that reenters Lake Macatawa is significantly cleaner than the lake itself—even after it’s been recycled for use in our generating facility.

The best way to keep wastewater clean and to ease the strain on our facilities is to avoid letting unnecessary waste into the waste stream in the first place. The HBPW has a number of programs in place to reduce the strain on our wastewater treatment facility, including industrial pre-treatment programs that regulate the disposal of industrial wastewater and a thermometer recycling program that keeps harmful mercury out of homes and our wastewater stream.

Our Pharmaceutical collection programs also help customers understand the harm of throwing expired drugs into the trash or down the drain and gives them a safe way to dispose of them

Plug in to get online with fiber.

Light Speed Ahead!

Our fiber backbone was installed in 1991 to improve communications between electric substations. Fiber has since expanded to connect all HBPW facilities and most networked field equipment, as well as most City facilities, including our police and fire departments.

Today, businesses and organizations across the community utilize our fiber-optic network for light-speed connections to the web. Commercial deployment of fiber to the City of Holland and Greater Holland Area is still in its beginning stages, but further development in the years to come could mean a wealth of benefits for our community.


Hospital Ambulance

With specialists across the country, and around the world, the ability to send and receive medical data quickly is increasingly important for providing the absolute best care possible. Fiber connections could save you a trip to the doctor’s office by making high-definition video conferencing between you and your healthcare provider easy.


Schools School Bus

Online learning is playing an increasingly large role in America’s education system. Schools of all levels throughout our community rely on the Holland Board of Public Works’ fiber backbone to connect to the Internet already. A more robust fiber backbone could mean greater possibilities, including advanced video conferencing.

Government Fire Truck Door

Government & Public Safety

Our police and fire departments already utilize our fiber backbone. Increased capacity and service throughout the community could mean faster notification of potential problems, as well as better inter-organizational communication and cooperation, making emergency response faster and Holland safer.


Businesses Clouds Airplane

Businesses across the community already use our fiber backbone for fast, reliable connections. Access to a reliable, high-speed network is a great incentive for innovative tech-based businesses looking to locate in West Michigan—especially alongside reliable power, water, and wastewater treatment. A more developed fiber network could have a direct impact on the economic success of the region.



While we don’t yet offer fiber-to-the-home service to residential customers, a network expansion could open the door to a number of exciting technologies—things like Smart Metering that makes it easy to monitor your energy usage in real time and adjust accordingly to save power and money—on top of Internet connection speeds that are, on average, 30 times faster than cable or DSL.

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