At Last, a Path to Shut Down for Salem Harbor Station

Shanna Cleveland

The wait is finally over. There is a clear path to the complete shutdown of Salem Harbor Station by June 1, 2014. Yesterday, ISO-NE presented its preferred option for upgrading the transmission system to relieve any need for the polluting, obsolete, and un-economic coal- and oil-fired plant. The solution is simple, cost-effective, and clean.

Instead of propping up the 60-year-old plant with above-market payments to be on call when electricity demand is highest, a transmission solution would upgrade the lines so they can carry more power into the area. 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will reap the benefits of a reliable system for years into the future at much lower cost than continuing to operate an out-of-date plant that emits tons of toxic pollution into the air each year.

The preferred alternative identified by ISO-NE is one of four that it presented in a compliance filing it submitted to FERC in December of 2010. FERC had directed ISO-NE to identify these solutions as the result of a protest lodged by CLF. The presentation yesterday was a result of Dominion’s February 2011 request to retire all four units at Salem Harbor Station. Although ISO-NE determined that Units 3 & 4 may still be necessary for reliability under existing system conditions, it has concluded that the proposed alternative would allow the units to retire without impacting system reliability.

The focus on existing lines, rather than building new ones, would reduce the cost and the timeline for implementation of the solution. CLF is confident that these upgrades can be completed and placed in operation in time to ensure that Salem Harbor Station shuts down no later than 2014, and possibly even earlier. With a confirmed date for shutdown, Salem residents and area ratepayers can better anticipate what’s next for Salem and pursue clean energy alternatives and economic development options now being studied for the site. CLF will work with ISO-NE, the transmission owners, and state agencies to make an expedited shutdown a reality.

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