Get to know BLP trustee candidate Andy Cawthon

Tribune Staff • Aug 1, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Name: Andy Cawthon

Age: 70

Occupation: Retired

Education: B.A. in zoology, University of California, Santa Barbara; M.S. in life sciences, University of Illinois, Chicago

Community involvement: Participant in Resilient Grand Haven 2017; participant in BLP community forum on Sims power plant 2018; Grand Haven Musical Fountain Committee (2012 to present; chairman, 2014 to present); Grand Haven Main Street/DDA Promotions and Marketing Committee (2007 to present; chairman, 2012 to present); Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival (2001-14; president, 2013-14); volunteer, Re-Imagine Project 2018

What unique qualities or experiences make you a good candidate for the BLP Board of Trustees?

There are many views on the future of power generation and snowmelt within the city and the BLP service area. Based on my years of community board and volunteer service, I have been aware of the many differing perspectives involving both issues. Based on constituent conversations, I have heard many divergent views on the future of power generation, power purchasing, Harbor Island remediation and redevelopment, as well as the current re-evaluation of a “peak load” gas plant. I have read the BLP’s 2017-21 Strategic Plan, the EPA white papers on power plant remediation and the City of Holland HDR Report “Power for the 21st Century.” I also read budgets and have had discussions with BLP staff and the city finance director on how bonds are issued for the BLP.

What do you think is the single most important issue for the BLP during the ongoing energy transition?

Based on the many differing perspectives and goals for the transition, in my opinion the most important issue is cost to the ratepayer and the ramifications of making a choice among several options: gas plant (larger/smaller), buy from the grid (no gas plant).

How important are renewable resources to Grand Haven’s energy future?

Renewable energy should be very important to Grand Haven’s energy future, especially in light of state mandates requiring specific percentages of power to be from renewable sources. Our renewable options are constrained by the shortage of available land to create our own source(s) of renewable energy, but plentiful in terms of buying renewable energy through the Michigan Municipal Power Agency (MPPA).

How important is it for the BLP to be transparent to customers? How do you ensure transparency?

I think that the BLP Board and staff are reasonably transparent in publishing meeting agendas, minutes and consulting reports, and I would recommend that they continue their current practices.

Would you change anything about how the BLP does business? How?

I would highly recommend that the BLP Board change its meeting time from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The current meeting time would seem inconvenient for many of its commercial ratepayers to attend since they are running their businesses at that hour and very inconvenient for residential ratepayers, especially those with families and school-age children. A larger meeting space for board meetings would also allow for more attendees.

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