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Planning For the end of King Coal in Massachusetts

by Robert Gardner

December 17, 2010

Coal Free MA

Good news yesterday out of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It’s recent decision on the nasty coal plant in Salem, Massacusetts paves the way for a coal free Massachusetts and a clean energy future for residents of the North Shore.

The news comes in response to a protest from the good folks up at Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). CLF was basically protesting the prospect that the Salem Harbor plant should be allowed to continue to operate for years despite its clear impact on human health and toll on the environment (not to mention the fact that they import their coal from known Human Rights offender Drummond Coal Company). CLF won their protest, with FERC’s order stating:

“We…order ISO-NE to submit a compliance filing within 60 days that either identifies alternatives to resolve the reliability need for Salem Harbor Units 3 and 4 and the time to implement those solutions, or includes an expedited timeline for identifying and implementing alternatives…”

The Independent System Operator (ISO) in New England now has 60 days to put together a plan to get this plant off-line sooner rather than later. Just remember, this plant contributes to nearly 20 premature deaths, 36 heart attacks, and 316 asthma attacks every year. This is especially horrible given that it does not power the homes of Salem, Massachusettes. It’s time to shut this plant down.

So, here’s where we are at in Salem:

– FERC has told ISO-NE to get on the ball about making sure reliability isn’t jeopardized if Salem Harbor is taken off-line.
– Massachusetts Energy Secretary Ian Bowles wrote a letter to ISO-NE urging it to quickly find and implement a plan to allow Salem Harbor to retire.
– Even the plant’s owner doesn’t want to invest in the plant — CEO Mark McGettrick has made it clear that they will be shutting down Salem Harbor, “in the near future, certainly within this five-year horizon.” And just so you know, they won’t be spending any money for “environmental improvements at Salem Harbor.”

Looks like nobody wants this plant to stay around. It does nothing but harm to the community, the environment and to Massachusettes’ clean energy future — so let’s do the right thing and shut the plant down now.

To a coal free future!

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