Campaign Updates

Globe: The end of the coal era in Massachusetts

The shutdown of the Mt. Tom power plant in Holyoke earlier this month signals the end of decades of using coal for generating electricity in Massachusetts.

Action for a Healthy Holyoke Statement on Mount Tom Coal Plant Closure

Action for a Healthy Holyoke released the following statement in response to the announced closure of Mount Tom Coal Plant.

One major step, several more to go

“The asthma rate in Holyoke is twice the state average and my wife suffers from terrible asthma herself,” said Carlos Rodriguez a community leader in Action for a Healthy Holyoke, “so, while we are very glad to know our air will be cleaner, responsible retirement also means working with our community and the workers for clean up and transition.”

“I am pleased, especially since we have heard some news that there may be solar power built there. I am also nervous about the contamination in the ground,” said Carmelo Diaz, a community leader in Action for a Healthy Holyoke, “back in Puerto Rico I’ve seen a coal plant that closed without cleaning up its mess.”

“I am concerned to hear from the company what the timeline for a clean up will be and what their vision of the future will be. When I was at the plant, I was so overwhelmed by the immensity of the steel and the whole plant, not to mention the ash that is underground,” said Bob Griffin, a member of Action for a Healthy Holyoke and resident of Holyoke, “The clean-up should not be taken lightly. So if the announcement from GDF-Suez is just that they are closing down, in terms of not burning coal, we’re waiting to hear what their next steps will be.”

Mount Tom Coal Plant to Shut Down

An article in the Springfield Republican confirms that Holyoke's Mount Tom power plant will shut down:

The owners of the Mount Tom Power Station have announced it will discontinue operations and shut down the facility this year.

The 28 employees who work at the plant were notified Monday morning that the plant would close and they would lose their jobs. A severance package will be offered to each and they are also being encouraged to apply for jobs at other plants which are also owned by GDF SUEZ Energy North America.

“It was a very difficult decision for the company to make. There are many highly-skilled and dedicated employees and the plant has been in operation since 1960,” said Carol Churchill, communications manager for GDF SUEZ.

The decision was an economic one. It is difficult for an older coal-burning plant to be operated efficiently...

Stay tuned for updates. The Massachusetts legislature still has time to pass coal transition legislation, and an RFP for the reuse study for the communities of Holyoke and Somerset has just been issued by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

 

Brayton Point closure confirmed for 2017

The owners of Brayton Point have declared they intend to close the plant by 2017. (Read their letter to ISO-NE, the grid operators, here.) Articles from the Boston GlobeHerald News, and other sources confirm this and give some background on both the plant and the dire economic situation in Somerset. As the Globe article notes:

The 51-year-old plant has been on the edge of closing for a while. Brayton Point and Salem Harbor, long considered among the state’s dirtiest power plants, are among the last of the large coal-burning facilities in Massachusetts.
 
Cheryl LaFleur, acting chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — it regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil — on Monday called Brayton’s retirement the end of an era for a facility “that has been a critical part of the energy infrastructure for a long time.”
 
“It’s the availability of other resources that can run more economically that is challenging the older resources,” she said. “New England is going through a lot of change in its energy supply.”
 
Somerset resident Pauline Rodrigues, a member of a grass-roots group that has pushed for the plant to be closed, said she has mixed feelings about Brayton’s retirement, given that it is Somerset’s biggest taxpayer.
 
Brayton’s owners have agreed to pay the town $16.75 million through 2016, according to the town assessor’s office.
 
But in viewing the closing from a health perspective, Rodrigues said, “I am thrilled to death.”

Ensuring the future of local economies, and reliability of the power grid, is no easy feat, but it is a surmountable challenge. Efficiency efficiency, conservation, new transmission lines, renewables and a lower-impact, more distributed energy grid can supply the power we need. In order to tackle the economic challenges, Massachusetts has to dedicate itself to supporting communities in transition. By adequately funding reuse planning in Somerset, conducting a thorough community process, and advancing legislation which would support workers and municipalities affected by coal plant closure, we can build a brighter tomorrow.

RI legislators join the fight against coal energy

A recent letter from Rhode Island Legislators to the Patrick Administration illustrates that power decisions are regional economic, energy and public health concerns:

The opposition to coal energy and pending shutdown of Brayton Point in the next few years is reaching across state borders.
 

As the Rhode Island Legislature returned to session, 32 of them co-signed and submitted a letter this week to the Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs seeking a regional remedy to the controversial fossil fuel.

"We write today because we see a great urgency and great opportunity as changes in our energy grid force a rethinking of power decisions," the letter states.

Read the full story: http://www.heraldnews.com/article/20140121/NEWS/140129319

Coal Free Advocates visit Senators Warren, Markey

This past week, in efforts to gain support for our platform and mimic what environmental advocates and activist did in Nevada we met with Senators Warren and Markey to ask their help in moving Massachusetts to a clean energy economy. To make these meetings a success we had several voices present to help convey our message. Annie Rushman, Healthy Air Coordinator for the American Lung Association emphasized the importance of retiring coal in Massachusetts due to the detrimental effects on the health of constituents especially those in close proximity to plants like Brayton Point and Mount Tom.

State energy officials still seeking public input on decommissioning of power plants

From the Herald News

SOMERSET —

State energy officials are continuing to accept public comments to help form legislation on the decommissioning of power plants, including Brayton Point.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which conducted a public hearing Monday night in Somerset that attracted more than 100 people, will accept comments until 5 p.m. on Jan. 20, said Krista Selmi, spokesperson for Richard Sullivan, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs.

Public comments should be aimed at helping the state pass new laws to “ensure the deconstruction, remediation and redevelopment or repowering” of power plant sites, including Brayton Point.

The 1,535-megawatt, mostly coal-fired power plant is slated to close June 1, 2017, based on filings by its new owners and negotiations between managing entity EquiPower Resources and ISO New England, the regional grid administrator.

Comments to the energy and environmental agency need to be directed to one of its administrators, Lauren Farrell, either by email at lauren.farrell@state.ma.us or in writing to the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: 100 Cambridge St., Suite 900, Boston, MA 02114.

Read more at http://www.heraldnews.com/newsnow/x595620356/State-energy-officials-still-seeking-public-input-on-decommissioning-of-power-plants

Somerset Coal Plant Task Force Hearing, 1/6

Somerset needs your help! Please, come out to stand strong for Somerset and Southeastern Massachusetts!

Coal plants are closing across the nation and in Southeastern Massachusetts. This is a challenging time for Somerset and the region, but it is also an exciting time of opportunity. MA Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary, Richard K. Sullivan, heads the State's Coal Plant Task Force, which will hold an important public meeting in Somerset to listen to the citizens' concerns for the future with respect to the Brayton Point and Montaup power plant sites. This task force committee will consider providing state funds to host cities and towns affected by the transition away from coal-fired power plants. There is a pressing requirement for communities to show strong public participation in developing plans for transition and re-use of these sites in order to qualify to receive crucial funding to move our transition process forward, and plan for the need of workers and community. Our voices do make a difference!

We look forward to seeing you there!

WHO:                        Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan

                                   Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia

                                   Senator Michael Rodrigues

                                   Representative Patricia Haddad

                                   Members of the state's coal plant task force

                                   Local officials and the Public

                            

WHEN:                        Monday, January 6, 2014, 6:00 p.m.

 

WHERE:                     Somerset Council on Aging115 Wood Street, Somerset

 

 

Hearing on the Clean Energy Commonwealth Bill

Join us at the state house on November 12th at 9:15 for a press conference and 10 a.m. hearing. Our coalition will testify in favor of H2935, An Act Relative to a Clean Energy Commonwealth. RSVP here or email jwool AT cleanwater DOT org. 

This legislation would phase out coal-fired power by 2020 while establishing a worker transition fund and creating worker training programs focused on clean energy jobs. Help support communities and shift our power grid by supporting this bill, H2935 and testifying in favor on November 12. Download a fact sheet about the bill here.

Brayton Point to Close by 2017

On Monday, 10/07, Energy Capital partners "filed papers indicating the Brayton Point Power Station would not provide power to the grid by 2017." Coal Free Massachusetts members responded quickly, noting the gains for the environment, the downturn of coal nationally, and the need for dedicated planning and financial resources to secure a just transition for Somerset and surrounding communities.

Read more about the response in the Fall River Herald News.

In a joint press release, several environmental and activist groups hailed the announced future closure of Brayton Point, noting that barely one month after the sale from Dominion and after completing $1 billion in pollution control upgrades, the new owner said it would be close operations in June 2017.
 
“Brayton Point is the largest and most modern coal-fired power plant in New England. If they can’t make a go of it, none of them can,” said Jonathan Peress, Vice President and Director of the Clean Energy and Climate Program for Conservation Law Foundation. “This is a death knell for coal in the region.” ...

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