Planning with Coal Plant Communities in Transition

By Emily Rhodes

At the beginning of the month, we published our “Coal Plant Redevelopment Roadmap: A Guide for Communities in Transition.” We compiled the lessons we learned alongside communities to ensure that no community has to start their transition from scratch.

Since our founding in 1998, we’ve engaged in community-driven redevelopment of vacant sites and brownfields, which over the past few years has included more and more former coal-fired power plant sites. Last fall, we published “In Transition: Stories from Coal Plant Communities,” which shares stories from U.S. communities in the trenches of coal transition, and the challenges and successes that can help others navigate the process.   

These tools are the first of many we hope to produce to assist communities in planning for the closure and potential reuse of their coal plants in ways that promote environmentally sustainable and socially equitable economic development. No matter where a community is in their transition process they can use our tools as a guide for valuable resources and lessons learned to help inform their decisions.   

As the Communities Specialist at Delta Institute, I’ve learned about and have been challenged by the complex issues facing communities as they begin to plan for the reuse of a former coal plant site. Our approach at Delta is to facilitate such transitions by working hand in hand with community groups and residents, local governments, and site owners to ensure there is a place for all stakeholders in the redevelopment process.

Growing up near Lansing, Michigan, the redevelopment of the Ottawa Street Power Station continues to be a favorite story of mine. While the redevelopment took place prior to my work on the issue, it sticks with me because the redevelopment of this site was a key component in the revitalization of downtown’s riverfront and required a great amount of participation from both public and private parties to make it happen. As with all redevelopments, there were significant challenges. However, the result was the reuse of a beautiful, art-deco building that now houses the national headquarters of the Accident Fund – retaining 1,000’s of jobs in Lansing.      

This roadmap is the first of many documents we plan to produce as our work continues. We hope that access to our roadmap will alleviate some pain points that come with the redevelopment process and help direct those participating towards positive economic and environmental outcomes. We hope you can use this tool and all of our free tools to strengthen your community and solve your environmental challenges. We encourage you to share our tools and resources with your friends, colleagues, and representatives, and to reach out to Delta to discuss your challenges and successes.

View the “Coal Plant Redevelopment Roadmap: A Guide for Communities in Transition” here:

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