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Units One and Two will Shut Down This Year
A New Dawn on the Energy Horizon
Karen Wood, CLF, (617) 850-1722
BOSTON, MA May 11, 2011 – In a move that signals the beginning of the end of coal’s dirty energy legacy, Dominion of Virginia confirmed today that it will shut down Salem Harbor Station, its 60-year-old coal and oil-fired power plant in Salem, Massachusetts, as of June 2014. The company said that two of its smaller coal units will shut down this year.
John Kassel, president of Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), said, “Today’s announcement is monumental, not just for the people of Salem who can now see the end of their long struggle for cleaner air, but for New England as a whole. At last, technology has caught up with these polluting vestiges of the past, making them uneconomic and impractical to run. With the pending demise of old coal in New England, we must see renewed urgency in planning and preparing for a cleaner, healthier energy future for this region and beyond.”
This week, ISO-New England, the electric system operator for the region, presented a proposal for upgrading the transmission system to relieve any need for the power plant. ISO-NE said its preferred solution would upgrade existing transmission lines so they can carry more power into the area. 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will reap the benefits of a reliable system for years into the future at much lower cost than continuing to operate an out-of-date plant that emits tons of toxic pollution into the air each year.
Dominion’s announcement comes after nearly 20 years of pressure brought to bear by citizen groups, political and religious leaders and environmental organizations in and around Salem, including HealthLink, SAFE, MASSPIRG, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club and Greenpeace. In those two decades, activists have fought for and won improvements to the plant that have forced the owners to clean up some of the pollution it has belched into the air and water since the 1950’s.
“This is a tremendous victory for Salem’s embattled residents, particularly those most vulnerable to the devastating health effects of burning coal, including children and the elderly,” said Shanna Cleveland, staff attorney for CLF. “For the first time in our lifetime, the societal costs of operating coal plants have finally begun to affect the bottom line. That is the direct result of decades of fights by dedicated citizens and environmental groups to internalize those costs through stronger environmental regulations and enforcement, as well as the more recent push to level the playing field for cleaner sources of energy.”
Representative Lori A. Ehrlich, a cofounder of HealthLink and now state representative, said, “This news is a long time coming for North Shore residents who have spent their lives downwind from this filthy coal plant. For 60 years this plant has fouled our air, land and drinking water and for that reason it will not be missed. I hope our efforts serve as an inspiration to others living downwind from these polluting relics that destroy our health.”
Background on Coal-Free New England
CLF is working towards a coal-free New England by 2020. For more than 20 years, CLF has held the region’s coal-fired power plants accountable for violations of clean air and water laws, while winning tougher regulations to protect the environment and public health. CLF filed the appeals of state permits that resulted in the 2011 closure of Somerset Station, in Somerset, Massachusetts, and has been instrumental in the fight to shutter Salem Harbor Station in Salem, Massachusetts, whose shutdown is now planned for 2014. With its tenacious legal advocacy, policy initiatives and regulatory expertise, CLF is applying pressure in all the right places to rid New England of old, dirty coal plants, keep the lights on at reasonable cost, and make way for clean renewable energy to power our region.
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.