Local Government Plans Take Shape

Curious about our the city of Holland’s Community Energy Plan? You should be! Because things are getting interesting…

By Shanley Smith

Photograph by Benjamin Child via Unsplash

In 2019 a group of citizens were appointed to direct the city of Holland’s Community Energy Plan. The group is known as the Strategic Development Team (SDT). And recently, they have been thinking outside the box. Their most recent strategy involves a plan with a highly influential business – Steelcase. 

You might be wondering… what was it that sparked such excitement amongst the SDT and Steelcase? The answer: RECs.

What are RECs?

The acronym “RECs” stands for Renewable Energy Credits.

RECs are environmental investments. These credits are generated from renewable resources. They can be bought, tracked, and traded – like stock or bitcoin.

When buying RECs, you back a market to fuel future growth in renewable resources. Companies (like Steelcase) can buy RECs to offset their carbon footprint. People can do this too. But… there’s a catch! When individuals or small businesses buy RECs, the cost per credit can be expensive.

Bigger players like Steelcase, however, buy large amounts. So they receive RECs at a cheaper rate.

What does this have to do with the Strategic Development Team?

Steelcase is known for its ambitious climate plan. As seen in August if 2020. That’s when the company announced a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. Their plan for doing so relies heavily on RECs.

So at Monday’s meeting, things got creative. Present in the conversation was Mary Ellen Mika, the director of Global Compliance and Sustainability at Steelcase. She put forward a fresh idea: a “Renewable Energy Credit Co-Op.” 

The concept is simple. People in West Michigan could buy RECs through Steelcase at the company’s more affordable rate.

The chairperson of the Strategic Development Team meetings, Brian Pageau, remarked that “[Steelcase’s] leadership is a massive tailwind” for Holland’s pursuit of a greener future. 

Though the details are far from fleshed out, the possibilities are inspiring. The concept reflects the character of West Michigan: opportunity for its community, care for its environment, and leadership that pairs with innovative solutions. Win, win, win!

Take Action

Email the Strategic Development Team. Let them know you’d be interested in joining a Co-Op!

Join the next Strategic Development Team meeting and deliver a public comment. Email us if you’d like help writing your comment!

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