Clear Path to Salem Shut Down Encourages Citizens

The ISO proposal on upgrades to the transmission system removes any impediment to shutting down Salem Harbor Generating Station. The closure of this plant will be the culmination of years of work by local citizens and organizations like SalemSafe, Healthlink, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the Conservation Law Foundation.

“The ISO analysis is consistent with the view of the plant owners and the public that the life of this polluting dirty coal plant is over. It is time to move forward with clean sustainable technology and efficiency. The sooner our money is spent on the future rather than the past, the better for our wallets as well as our health,” says Jane Bright, HealthLink.

New England’s Independent System Operator, which makes decisions about the region’s electricity grid, decided yesterday that to allow the Salem Harbor Power Station to close two coal-fired units in 2014. It also proposed upgrades to the local transmission grid that should allow the entire coal-burning power plant to permanently shut down by 2014 or sooner. “The advantages are clear: by upgrading the transmission infrastructure, ratepayers will reap the benefits of a reliable system for years into the future at much lower cost than continuing to operate an out-of-date plant that emits tons of toxic pollution into the air each year,” said Shanna Cleveland, Staff Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation.

“We are glad to hear that Salem’s coal fired power plant is not necessary for our region’s future.  This is a great example of how smart regulation and active citizens can push our energy system in a clean, low-carbon direction.  The residents of Salem and the surrounding area can breathe easier, literally and figuratively, knowing that this plant will close and newer, cleaner technologies will replace it,” said Jeff Barz-Snell, Co-Leader of the SAFE.

State Representative Lori A. Ehrlich (D) and one of the original founding members of HealthLink in 1997 said, “The Salem Plant was built in the 1950’s when cars had tail fins and white wall tires. Now that it has soiled our region’s drinking water, air, land and sea for 60 years, and taken a toll on our health, it’s about time it went the way of the Edsel.”

The impending shut down of Salem Harbor Generating Station is a symbol of things to come; all across the country, economic conditions, citizen activism that springs from health concerns, and common-sense pollution regulations are changing America’s energy landscape.

“Yesterday’s ISO proposal on Salem Harbor Generating Station represents the very real victory of people over dirty energy interests.  Residents of the North Shore will no longer have this menace in their community threatening our public health and our environment,” said David Lands, Greenpeace’s Massachusetts-based Organizer.

“This is a victory for the people of the North Shore that have worked for more than a decade on this cause. More importantly this is a victory for the 134,335 children in the Commonwealth with asthma that struggle to breathe each day from pollution like that of Dominion Energy’s coal fired Salem Harbor Station,” said Drew Grande, the Massachusetts-based Sierra Club “Beyond Coal” organizer.

Today, transmission upgrades, efficiency measures, and demand response alternatives could replicate the success in Salem throughout Massachusetts. It’s time to make sure that these improvements are brought online quickly and efficiently to make sure this plant’s days are over.

The Salem Harbor coal-fired power plant has been operating since 1951. It has been a major source of air pollution and toxic coal ash. The struggle against this plant represents years of work by local activists, organizations, and political leaders.

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