Utility Scam Alert: Be Wary of Callers Asking for Payment Through Pre-Paid Credit Card

Recently, Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) customers have fallen victim to utility scams involving callers, claiming to represent Holland BPW, demanding payment for a past-due balance through a prepaid card, and threating to shut off service, if the payment is not received.

This is an attempt at fraud. The callers use an untraceable phone service, and ask the customer to stay on the line with them and make payment with a prepaid credit card. Unfortunately, if customers fall victim to this scam, their payment goes to the fraudulent scammer and is not traceable.

order them to buy the pre-paid card on the spot and give them their card information. Unfortunately, if customers fall victim to this scam, this information is not traceable.

To avoid falling for scams, customers should keep the following tips in mind:

1) The caller ID from HBPW for will always read 616.355.1500.

2) HBPW accepts cash, check, money order and credit cards.

3) HBPW customers can also pay at Paul’s Pharmacy and Wal-mart, or use the drop box outside of service center hours.

4) If in doubt, customers can call HBPW at 616.355.1500 to speak to a representative or use the balance inquiry system, available 24 hours a day.

5) Customers can view their account online at hollandbpw.com by clicking on the Customer Connect button at the bottom of the homepage.

Customers should report any suspicious calls or other types of contact not generated by a Holland BPW representative to their local police department.

April 13 Marks Last Day of Burning Coal at Holland BPW’s James De Young Power Plant

April 13, 2016, Holland, Michigan – Coal will no longer be used to fuel Holland BPW’s James De Young (JDY) Power Plant after Wednesday. April 13 marks the last day for burning coal at the 76 year-old plant.

“JDY is a piece of history in our community that represents Holland’s ability to make forward-thinking and innovative decisions,” said Dave Koster, general manager, Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW). “JDY has served the community very reliably since 1940, when it was constructed.”

Even though coal will no longer be burned at JDY, it will not be closing its doors.

“There will still be two generating units able to generate with natural gas,” said Koster. “The plant will continue to be staffed even as employees begin to transition to the Holland Energy Park (HEP) throughout the summer and fall.”

Holland BPW is more than halfway through the construction of the Holland Energy Park, it’s new, state-of-the art gas-fired power plant.

“The vision for more sustainable, affordable and reliable energy in the Holland community has continued to evolve throughout the years and the replacement of JDY with HEP is the product of that vision,” said Koster.

Leftover coal still at JDY will be sold to other organizations as part of the preparation for removal of the coal yard and ash ponds in 2017.

Second Energy Prize Ward Competition to Wrap Up by June 30; Enter Now for the Chance to Win a House Full of LED Light Bulbs

June 23, 2015 – Holland, MI – “What’s your number?” That’s what the folks from the Energy Prize have been asking Holland residents lately. They’re talking about a home’s energy index.

The Holland Energy Prize team is encouraging residents to know their number by using the online calculator at www.hollandbpw.com/homeenergyusecalculator. Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) customers that do so and hit “submit” have the chance to win an entire house full of LED bulbs! Customers in the ward group and township with the most entries will be eligible for the drawing.

It’s simple and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Customers need 12 months of usage available on one HBPW electric bill, 12 months of SEMCO Energy Gas usage and the square footage of their home to calculate their score.

“Learning your energy consumption rate gives home owners a starting point,” said Anne Saliers, community energy services manager, HBPW. “Like a weight scale, it can help home owners decide what steps they need to take to easily lower their consumption, such as replacing their five most used bulbs with LEDs or turning down the temperature on their water heater.”

If customers want to be eligible for the competition, they need to act quickly. The competition ends June 30.

“The opportunity to win a house full of LED bulbs could be a big energy saver,” said Dave Koster, general manager, HBPW. “LED bulbs use 80 percent less energy than incandescent lights and can last 20 or more years.”

The Energy Prize has developed friendly competitions between four ward groups in the city to help raise awareness and participation for Holland’s bid in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The “Know Your Number” campaign is the second ward competition. The first quarter competition wrapped up in March after residents competed by getting a furnace tune up chance to win a new high-efficiency furnace.

For more information about the Energy Prize, visit www.hollandenergyprize.com

Holland Fourth Across the Nation to Win Five Million and Change

In rankings released yesterday, the City of Holland is ranked fourth among 50 cities nationwide competing in the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a contest that is challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use.

To earn its 4th place ranking, Holland currently holds a net -20 in energy reduction. The current leader, Huntsville, Ala., holds a net -32. The results are an accumulation of data from the first two quarters of 2015 and are available at http://guep.iconics.com. GUEP is a two-year competition.

“In less than a year, Holland homeowners have become more conscious of their energy usage, and it is because of their efforts that we are ranked as one of GUEP’s most energy efficient cities,” said Nancy DeBoer, mayor, Holland. “We are only one quarter of the way through this contest and Holland’s volunteer and marketing efforts are just getting started. We look forward to the next reporting from GUEP.”

The GUEP competition officially kicked off in January 2015 and the City of Holland has worked collaboratively with Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) and SEMCO ENERGY Gas Company to develop participatory, community-facing programs to help reduce energy consumption.

“Holland is a world-class city that values collaboration, and because of that, we have become a contender in the Georgetown Energy Prize,” said Ryan Cotton, city manager, Holland. “Our volunteers have knocked on thousands of doors to tell this story, and there is an entire year remaining, so we still have work to do. Holland needs the resolve of the entire city to earn first place and win $5 million to support the new Holland Energy Fund.”

GUEP rankings represent an estimated snapshot of the overall energy score, which calculates each community’s reduction in overall energy use in 2015, compared to the same period in 2013 and 2014. It also adjusts for number of households, weather and to account for the energy used in producing and distributing the energy.

“The buzz around the competition is growing, but we need to make a concerted effort to keep residents excited and interested in reducing their energy consumption if we want to win the prize,” said Dave Koster, general manager, HBPW. “Residents can call the city or HBPW for an immediate energy savings package. The long-term goal is to save homeowners money and help our environment too.”

To reach residents on a personal level, volunteers from throughout the City, City employees and HBPW employees rallied together for two different energy blitzes, one in June and most recently in November. Additionally, the City and HBPW have participated in community events, used a variety of marketing techniques including videos, social media, radio ads and billboards, and implemented quarterly competitions with prizes to help incentivize residents to take action.

“We implemented the quarterly competitions through City of Holland and HBPW Facebook pages as an easy way to remind residents how they can be energy-conscious, and give them the opportunity to contribute to the competition in a fun way,” said Anne Saliers, community energy services manager, HBPW. “In fact, we have a competition running right now! Throw on your ugly holiday sweater and upload the photo to the HBPW or City of Holland Facebook pages for a chance to win a Nest thermostat valued at $250.”

Anyone interested in the city of Holland’s progress can use the interactive dashboard at http://guep.iconics.com. There, visitors will see an aggregated electric and natural gas energy consumption from the municipal and residential sectors. The residential sector includes all homes, condos, apartments and other residential properties within the community while the municipal sector includes all government buildings, K-12 schools, public infrastructure and other public services provided by the city and/or county.

In 2014, the city of Holland developed a comprehensive strategy and tactics to reduce energy usage by municipal and residential buildings. The final outcome is intended to be utilized by cities of all sizes across the country, making it as important for Holland's plan to be efficient as well as replicable and scalable.

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit www.guep.org, or follow the Prize on Twitter (@GUEnergyPrize) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/guenergyprize).