Massachusetts Environmental Officials Say the End is in Sight for Coal Fired Power Plants
As part of a larger clean-energy strategy, the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs has created a task force to assist communities in their transition away from coal-based electricity generation.
In 2005, there were twelve coal fired power plants in Massachusetts. Now there are just three. Salem is host to the largest coal burning plant in the state -- which is slated to close before the end of 2014. Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan is also head of the new task force. He says other forms of electricity generation are better for the environment and more cost effective. He says the Salem plant's closure is a good indication of what's to come for a similar facility at Mount Tom in Holyoke.
"Certainly we would expect that Holyoke, which is a significantly smaller facility in terms of size of actual physical facility but also in terms of how much electricity it generates. You know, if you're looking at the energy crystal ball we can safely say that sometime in the near future these facilities will in fact be offline."
Chuck Burnham represents First Light Power, the Connecticut based company that owns and operates the Mount Tom facility. He says in 2009, First Light invested 55-million dollars in emission reduction equipment.
"One of our number one priorities is ensuring that we continue to stay below the regulations and laws set by both the federal and state government and we've continued to be able to do that."
Burnham says continuing to comply with the EPA's Clean Air Act as a coal plant would be very expensive. He says the new state task force will put out a report analyzing Mount Tom's options for cleanup and re-purposing by next December. Until then, Burnham says the 146-megawatt facility will continue burning around 12-hundred tons of coal per day.