Massachusetts Anti-Coal Coalition Formed

A Holyoke, Massachusetts citizens group is announcing support for a state-wide effort to shutter all three coal-fired power stations in Massachusetts, including the Mount Tom Power Plant in the city. 

Citing environmental concerns, Coal Free Massachusetts says they want to see power plants which run on coal phased out by the year 2020. In Holyoke, the battle over these plants is nothing new. Alliance for a Healthy Holyoke has been seeking the closure of the Mount Tom plant for more than a year. Carmen Concepcion is a spokesperson for the alliance.  Speaking through an interpreter, she says the group is most troubled about possible air pollution

“We do not want coal burning in our city anymore. We want our city free of contamination. The toxins coming from coal burning are affecting our health day in and day out. And this is why we need clean air. We need new industry to come in that’s clean and sustainable.”

The owners of the plant say they are committed to producing power for the region’s grid through at least 2016. Chuck Burnham is a spokesman for First Light Power Resources.  He says the plant only operates a few times a month, during peak electricity usage. As for possible environmental issues, Burnham says in recent years Mount Tom has made improvements

“We put what’s called a turbo sorp, which was essentially a scrubber device in our plant that helps us get well below current Massachusetts emissions limits. So we’re well below both state and federal emissions limits.”

The Mount Tom Power Plant was built in 1960.  It sits along the banks of the Connecticut River near the Holyoke-Easthampton border.