Local effects of energy policy changes
Published June 8, 2023
Written by Madison
Photography by Simply American
By next year, 28% of the energy supplied by the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power is expected to come from renewable sources.
Why Electric Bills Are Rising
Americans face rapidly rising costs for electricity. However, reliability for that electricity may be decreasing due to the decommissioning of coal power stations across the country, diminishing investment in reliable energy sources, increasing dependence upon inadequate solar and wind power generation, and growing demand for electricity, partly due to electric vehicles.
We don’t have to look any further than the City of Grand Haven to see this national scenario play out.
The Board of Light and Power (BLP) formerly operated the J.B. Sims Generating Station, a coal power plant for the City of Grand Haven. The Sims plant closed in February 2020, forcing BLP to buy power from “the grid,” a complex network of power suppliers and buyers connected by the regional electric transmission system. BLP purchased the grid power at locked-in prices which kept costs stable for Grand Haven customers.
Today power costs are up 33%, however, and customer rates are correspondingly increasing.
During BLP’s December 15, 2022 meeting, General Manager David Walters explained, “When we cancelled the plant, we immediately went out and bought capacity, and that capacity now is just not available.”
Walters went on to explain that the price increase is largely due to oil/gas/energy industry regulations, which discourage energy producers from investing in infrastructure and expanding operations. Big oil industry players aren’t drilling because they are being driven out of the market. When coupled with other producers who have reduced production capacity, rising demands for electricity are creating energy shortages.
In Grand Haven, customer rates are rising one percent per month. The increase began last July, and will continue through July 2023. Though demands continue to rise, supply does not. Therefore, the rates likely will continue to climb.
Potential For Power Shortages
Several BLP employees and board members repeatedly explained that costs are increasing, regulation is increasing, and demand is increasing. These factors appear to be beyond their control and are likely to lead to future power shortages.
BLP predicts that if power producers continue to reduce production by taking power plants offline and customer demand continues to increase, the results could lead to electrical “brown outs” like those experienced in California.
As a hypothetical, if shortages worsen, could we one day see power availability limited like in Venezuela? In Venezuela, residents don’t have access to power 24 hours per day, but instead have power available at designated or even random times.
Most Americans are accustomed to reliable electricity. The majority of us haven’t had to experience, nor would we likely choose to experience, prolonged periods without power.
Unfortunately, we unknowingly may be headed in that direction.
Local communities are starting to feel the effects of local, state, and federal energy policy and regulations. These complexities will continue to play out as global warming alarmists push for an over reliance on insufficient “green-energy” sources.
Additional energy policy resources are available at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.