Description and History
The Zeeland Board of Public Works (ZBPW) is a municipally owned water and electric utility serving the City of Zeeland (City) and its surrounding community.
The City began providing water and electricity to its inhabitants in 1902. The electrical system was sold in 1915 and a 10-year franchise agreement was signed with Consumers Power Company. The franchise was renewed for another 10-year term in 1925. Nearing conclusion of the second term, Zeeland citizens began efforts to reestablish their municipally owned electric utility. In addition to issuing revenue bonds to finance an entirely new power production and electrical distribution system, the City received assistance through the Public Works Administration. In 1935, Zeeland again began supplying electricity using its own generation and distribution system. This new utility was operated under the direct supervision of the City Council until an approved City Charter revision created the Board of Public Works in 1952.
1935 Power Plant
The Board of Public Works is a semi-autonomous five member commission approved by City Council to serve staggered five-year terms. The Board is responsible to City Council, and Zeeland citizens, for the prudent operation of the City’s water and electric utilities.
Certain employees and facilities are shared operationally between the two utilities and with other departments of the City of Zeeland. All utility costs are segregated (joint expenses are shared porportionally) and financed solely through the revenues generated by their respective utility sales. Financing for large capital assets have been generally obtained through issuing tax-exempt municipal revenue bonds.
The water utility purchases its water at wholesale from the City of Holland and operates its own distribution system consisting of approximately 50 miles of water main serving approximately 2,800 customer accounts and providing annual sales exceeding 1.5 billion gallons.
The electric utility operates 36,000 kilowatts of natural gas generation capacity located in or near Zeeland, owns entitlement shares through the Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA) of an additional 11,580 kilowatts of coal fired capacity from the DTE Energy Belle River Plant located near St. Clair, Michigan, owns an entitlement share through MPPA of 7,060 kilowatts of natural gas fired capacity from the AMP Fremont Energy Center in Fremont, Ohio, has a long term purchase power agreement for up to 4,000 kilowatts of landfill gas renewable energy, two long term purchase power agreements totaling 12,000 kilowatts in renewable wind energy from sources in eastern Michigan, firm bilateral agreements extending thru 2030, and purchases and schedules power on a day ahead and real time basis through the Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA).
The ZBPW’s electric distribution system consists of approximately 147 miles of primary line to service its 6,200 customer accounts, and has annual sales exceeding 360,000 kilowatt hours.
The ZBPW is a member of: American Water Works Association, American Public Power Association, Michigan Public Power Agency, and Michigan Municipal Electric Association.