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
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 1, 2012
Brian T. Watson
Salem Evening News
As two energy companies — Footprint Power and Dominion Energy — negotiate in relative secrecy over the possible sale of Salem Harbor Station, the rest of us can only wait with great interest for the result.
Barring some unanticipated event, Dominion is expected to close the power plant permanently sometime during 2014. The 60-year-old facility is currently running only two of its four generating units and is relied on only part-time by the regional power grid. Read more…..
April 27, 2012
By Tom Dalton
SALEM EVENING NEWS
SALEM — National Grid is delaying its plan to replace several miles of underground electricity transmission lines through the downtown.
The project will be postponed one year due to uncertainty over the future of the Salem Harbor Station power plant, the company said.
Virginia energy giant Dominion, which plans to close the fossil fuel plant in 2014, is in talks with a possible buyer who wants to build a natural gas facility. Read more…..
April 25, 2012
By Erin Ailworth
A Houston pipeline company has begun exploring the expansion of a major regional pipeline to bring abundant supplies of natural gas to New England from nearby shale formations, a move that could help lower heating and electricity costs here.
Spectra Energy Corp. estimates that increasing pipeline capacity in Southern New England by about 15 percent would save gas and electric customers – including roughly 3 million in Massachusetts – up to $651 million a year. It would allow the area to further benefit from the boom in natural gas production inPennsylvania and New York, although there are no estimates yet on the potential effect on individual bills.
By Staff reports
Posted Apr 05, 2012
Last week, Marblehead-and-Swampscott-based HealthLink joined two other organizations in sending out a press release announcing their opposition to the tentative plans of Footprint Power to redevelop the site of the Salem power plant. The company proposes a natural-gas plant, which may also use diesel fuel, according to filings with New England ISO, which oversees the local power grid.
Posted on April 1, 2012
Kathy Karch is a member of the Educational Committee of the Salem Alliance for the Environment
I suppose that I can’t be surprised that HealthLink immediately came under fire for expressing their significant concerns on their listserv regarding the current proposal to build a large natural gas and diesel burning power plant on the site of the current Salem Harbor Station. Some people don’t care what an environmental group is saying, or who the environmental group is trying to protect. If it’s an environmental group that’s expressing concern, some folks criticize seemingly on principle.
On March 27, Nelson Benton went on the attack against HealthLink in an editorial for the Salem News. Let’s sum up his gripes, shall we? HealthLink is flip flopping–10 years ago the group stated that a natural gas facility at the Salem Harbor Station site would be better and now they’re not supporting Footprint’s plan to build one. Sarcastically, he suggests that maybe they’d prefer a nuclear power plant instead (quite a leap from not endorsing a natural gas proposal to endorsing nuclear power). Oh, and let’s not forget his ire in the fact that HealthLink hasn’t given “one red cent” to the redevelopment of the Salem Harbor Station site (a privately owned property, I might add). Then, just to confuse the issue and continue the gripe-fest, Mr. Benton drags in the sewage treatment plant. How that is relevant to HealthLink or the title of his editorial “Healthlink pans Footprint plan” he doesn’t make clear.