SAFE Opposes Section 42

On July 17 th, 2012, SAFE joined  New England Power Generators’ Association, (NEPGA), Toxics Action Center, Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA), Environment Mass, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club,  Occupy Salem and HealthLink in opposing legislation being considered by state lawmakers (House Bill 4225) which includes a condition (Section 42) that forces Massachusetts electric consumers to purchase power for the next 15 years from a new, natural gas power plant being built on the site of a retired coal plant.

SAFE also sent a message to legislators and the local new outlets that further qualified SAFE’s position:

Speaker Robert Deleo, President Therese Murray, Sen. Fred Berry and Members of the Joint Energy Conference Committee

Section 42 of the House Energy bill unfairly privileges new natural gas plants. The type of long-term contract proposed should be reserved for renewable energy projects that move the Commonwealth closer to its goals for reducing its carbon footprint. New gas projects should move forward only if they are economically feasible without rate payer or taxpayer subsidies. It is our understanding that the developers who recently purchased Salem Harbor station have a business plan for a quick-start gas plant that is economically viable without this sweetheart deal. Long term contracts should be reserved for renewables.

Thank you for your consideration.

Patricia A. Gozemba

Co-Chair, Salem Alliance for the Environment

Coal Free Massachusetts

SAFE, Healthlink, Clean Water Action, and Sierra Club held a press conference at the Blaney Street pier today to announce the launch of a statewide campaign to decommission all of the state’s coal-fired energy plants. Today, Massachusetts has three coal-fired plants: Salem Harbor Station, which will be retired in June 2014; Mt. Tom in Holyoke; and Brayton Point in Somerset. Brayton Point, which is owned by Dominion Energy, is by far the state’s largest operating coal plant.

Among those who spoke at the press event was Kathy Karch, a Willows resident and high school biology teacher. Karch said, “If we are going to get global climate change under control, and we are going to guarantee a livable future for all children, then among other things coal needs to go and it needs to go now. Tomorow is too late.”

Coal plants are the largest polluters in the Commonwealth, and contribute 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Read more.

Environmentalists split on gas plant

The July 5 Salem News highlights disagreements among North Shore environmentalists on the wisdom of siting a new natural gas plant at Salem Harbor Station. Pat Gozemba of SAFE is quoted as saying:

We really don’t want another fossil fuel plant, but we’re looking at the economic realities. We are concerned about the economic health, as well as the environmental health, of this city.

As reporter Tom Dalton explains, the proposal for the quick-start gas plant does have some environmental benefits. This type of plant could provide the necessary back-up power for a future wind farm off Cape Ann.

Keenan attempts to sweetheart deal for Footprint

As reported in the Salem News on July 3, Representative  Keenan has written into the State’s energy bill a provision that would guarantee long-term energy contracts for the proposed natural gas plant in Salem. Footprint, the new owner of Salem Harbor Station, has said that the company did not request this special treatment  and the provision isn’t necessary to its success. SAFE has expressed its concerns about the proposal to Representative Keenan. We believe these types of subsidies should be reserved for renewable energy projects, which are more difficult to fund and implement.

Footprint Power Buys Salem Harbor Station

On June 30, The Salem News announced that Footprint Power, a New Jersey energy developer, had finalized its deal to purchase Salem Harbor Station from Dominion. Footprint plans to tear down the old plant, remediate the site, and build a new gas-fired plant, using quick start, combined cycle technology. In addition, they will be developing the rest of the site for commercial use. Footprint has expressed interest in meeting with the community, and SAFE hopes to continue its dialogue with the company.