Buzz on the BLP candidates

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Incumbent James VanderMolen is being challenged by Dan Borchers for the six-year term on the municipal utility's board.

Borchers, 1849 Doris Ave., owns the Frame and Mat Shop in Grand Haven's Centertown. VanderMolen, 1201 Marion St., is a retired employee of the Board of Light & Power who has served on the board since June 2001.

Candidates were asked where they stood on several issues that face the local power provider. Here are their responses:

(1) What is the most pressing issue facing the BLP today?

Borchers: “I would say coal and the potential for natural gas. I think it is very important, especially in West Michigan. I think the BLP is positioned to take a look at other sources of energy in the coming years.”

VanderMolen: “In my view, I believe the power plant should be converted from coal burning to natural gas in the next few years. I think that is the big thing facing the Board of Light & Power right now.”

(2) What are you looking forward to if elected?

Borchers: “It is all about giving back. I just have interest in not only the BLP, but the municipalities in the surrounding area, (and) I think it’s an asset and not many people are aware of how fortunate we are.”

VanderMolen: “My main goal is to provide reliable and dependable service to all users. To me, that is very important. Our distribution system over the past 50 years has been completely redone, and all we have to do is maintain it.”

(3) What do you think of current power rates for customers?

Botchers: “From my experience, the BLP as a board has done good working with residential and commercial customers. The BLP does a good job. It’s a great thing it has going for Grand Haven.”

VanderMolen: “The goal is to keep rates as low as possible and entice people to come to Grand Haven and Spring Lake. That is happening, and that is the goal of the BLP and the general manager.”

(4) What are your thoughts on renewable energy projects like wind and solar?

Borchers: “I think they are all good, but I think we’ll have to do the research and see what is best for us.”

VanderMolen: “The BLP won’t ever build that kind of thing, but we’ll buy into it. We’ve already bought into landfill and wind generation projects."

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