Friends 4 A Beautiful Grand Haven

We are Grand Haven: a beautiful city on the shores of Lake Michigan and at the mouth of Michigan’s longest river – the Grand. 

Friends 4 A Beautiful Grand Haven want to see us maximize our shores and protect our health by moving away from generating energy through burning coal toward a clean, renewable energy future. We encourage you to join our quest for a cleaner, healthier and more beautiful community.

Join Friends 4 A Beautiful Grand Haven to push for a different, cleaner, healthier future for our city.


Harbor Island is surrounded by the Grand River, yet the stunning views that could dominate the skyline are obscured by the sprawling J B Sims Coal Plant. 

Grand Haven Tribune file photo

Looming large over the horizon, the plant impacts every view from the beautiful Grand Haven harbor.  

Boaters, visitors and residents who enjoy Chinook Pier, Linear Park, landmark Musical Fountain, riverfront shops and boardwalk do so in the shadow of the plant. 


images below show what these scenes would look like without the coal plant

Even the boardwalk to the beautiful, historic lighthouse built in 1939 views the coal plant. 

It’s time to rethink the future of Harbor Island... 
  • Is this dirty coal plant with its large coal storage piles and coal ash ponds the vision we want for our harbor?
  • Storage piles and coal ash ponds sit precariously close to the water, could they have an impact on our water safety?
  • Burning coal releases harmful toxins in the air.  Should residents and visitors to Grand Haven continue to be subjected to potential health hazards? 

coal unloading at Sims

coal ash ponds--Grand River in the background
(see aerial view below)

Imagine This
  • Grand Haven being recognized as the ‘most’ beautiful harbor in Western Michigan
  • A harbor dominated by the uniqueness of Grand Haven with its quaint charm, bustling businesses, shops and restaurants
  • Boaters, kayakers and hikers all enjoying the clean, beautiful waters at the mouth of the Grand River and on the shores of Lake Michigan 
This vision could be the future of Grand Haven and that’s why we want you to join us in our quest to move our community toward a clean, beautiful and healthy future.


Visitors come from across the state and throughout the Midwest to enjoy our access to the flowing, clean waters that surround this community.  As Michigan’s longest river, the Grand originates in Jackson and makes its long 252 mile journey to Grand Haven where it flows into beautiful Lake Michigan. 
Vessels of all sizes including kayaks, sailboats, large cabin cruisers and large ships travel the waters in our region. As a ‘Coast Guard City USA’ designated by an act of Congress in 1998, U.S. Coast Guard Station Grand Haven is an important part of the community.

Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival

Water puts Grand Haven on the map. It is water that draws people from near and far to enjoy our harbor town. The time has come for us to prepare for the future of Grand Haven and Harbor Island. We must protect our waterways.

Why do coal piles and coal ash matter?

There are two coal ash ponds at the JB Sims site with the capacity to store 145,000 cubic feet of coal ash (this is more than 1 million gallons).

Coal ash contains dangerous contaminants such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and lead.  Currently, there are issues with the coal ash ponds at JM Sims not meeting the standards to prevent toxins from leaching into groundwater as described on the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power website.

Other questions also remain about water safety:
  • How secure are these coal ash ponds?
  • How would a break in these ponds (a coal ash spill) impact Grand Haven Harbor and Lake Michigan, which is less than one mile from Harbor Island? 
  • What are the impacts of the mercury that the Sims plant releases directly into the Grand River?

coal ash ponds - Grand River in the foreground
(see ground-level view 

What about the air?

Coal plants, including Sims, produce hundreds of tons of air pollution every year, including sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  

Short-term exposures, especially to SO2, can harm the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult. Children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to effects of SO2. More about the health impacts from coal pollution can be found in these three documents:

What are the options?

For years, many debates on the future of the electricity system centered on getting the balance right between higher costs and lower environmental impacts. But Lazard's annual report on the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) finds renewables are now the cheapest available sources of electricity - even without subsidies. Today it’s looking like we may not have to choose – a cleaner, cheaper grid may be within reach. Wind and Solar Are Our Cheapest Electricity Generating Sources. Now What Do We Do?

West Michigan residents having a large
solar array placed on their roof.

Recently installed solar array on a Grand Haven home

Become a Friend 4 A Beautiful Grand Haven

So how can you get engaged?
Join Friends 4 A Beautiful Grand Haven to push for a different, cleaner, healthier future for our city. 

For questions or comments call 517-999-1306 or e-mail