Over the past few days in Bridgeport, we have heard from hundreds of people concerned about the future of energy. After highlighting the dangers posed by the Bridgeport Harbor Generating Station last February, it seems like every day that passes, more and more people have spoken out against the absurdity of continuing to operate this plant. Just last week, a rally for clean energy in Bridgeport ended with a police escort and a Potemkin village tour of the plant by the plant's operator. This weekend, Credo sent out an alert to its members in Connecticut and has gotten over 1,500 signers asking Governor Malloy to shut down the Bridgeport Coal Plant.
Last week the Quit Coal Team was represented in Bridgeport during the "Gathering of the Vibes" music festival, right by the Bridgeport plant. We didn’t come just to enjoy the festival and provide free solar power for phones, music, and a variety of other needs. We have come back to continue the campaign for Bridgeport’s future. The campaign will continue until the people of Bridgeport can live free of this plant’s polluting coal stack. Our local friends and partners continue to work hard for Connecticut’s future. We will as well.
However, there is one uncomfortable fact that Bridgeport – like many communities throughout the country – will need to face in the not-too-distant future. Whether the plant's owner, PSEG, or our elected officials care to admit it, this plant will close -- the only question is when. It makes no sense to pretend it will not. Thousands of megawatts of coal-fired energy are being phased out across the country in the next few years. Coal-fired electricity generation is becoming more expensive as corporations are being forced to pay to pollute. The prudent course is to ensure that the city of Bridgeport, PSEG’s employees, and the local industries that contract with the plant are adequately prepared for this inevitability.
Getting ahead of the plant’s retirement just makes a lot of sense. In Salem, Massachusetts, the community is taking steps to make sure that the retiring coal plant in their back yard is not breaking the bank. Bridgeport can do the same. Creating a comprehensive reuse plan to ensure that the site is appropriately remediated is how Salem started the process. There is no reason that Bridgeport cannot also look forward to a day without millions of tons of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur and other hazardous air pollutants -- while still ensuring the city's financial efficacy.
With Mayor Finch’s green agenda, Bridgeport is ideally situated to make huge strides towards being a clean energy generation hub. Fairfield County is one of the wealthiest in the United States, yet Bridgeport lags behind. By eliminating thousands of tons of hazardous air pollutants a year by shutting down this plant, a new, cleaner – and financially resilient - Bridgeport is possible.
The change will come for Bridgeport. The change will come for communities throughout the nation. Together, we can live together in a world free of the dangers of coal-fired energy.