Massachusetts will have one less coal fired power plant dirtying its air. Brayton Point Power Plant, the state’s largest coal-fired power plant is slated to close down in 2017, leaving only one more such plant in Massachusetts. As Jonathan Peress, Vice President and Director of the Clean Energy and Climate Program for Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) said in a recent press release:
“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. This is a death knell for coal in the region.”
In fact, CLF is working towards a coal free New England by 2020. According to its web site:
“Although widely perceived to be one of the cheapest ways to produce electricity, burning coal exacts a heavy cost on the environment, public health, and, increasingly, New England’s economy.”
Residents of Somerset, the town where the plant is located, have an opportunity to implement a healthier economy. Sylvia Broude, Executive Director of Toxics Action Center, a public health and environmental nonprofit hopes that the plant’s owners
… will join local residents at the table to discuss reuse and cleanup and negotiate a transition plan with power plant workers. Somerset can be a model for other coal communities in New England to shift away from archaic dirty energy and towards clean technology.
Indeed, while going from dirty power to renewables can’t always be a one-for-one transition at a given plant site, Peress said in a recent interview, “We can expect that some of that capacity will be replaced with renewable resources. Renewables are being integrated more than ever.” For example, Solana, the nation’s first large scale solar energy plant, located in Arizona entered service this month. The new plant will generate enough power for about 70,000 homes.
Closing coal-fired plants doesn’t just make sense in health terms, but in economic terms as well. A report commissioned by the Conservation Law Foundation found that given Brayton Point’s declining revenues, it is unlikely it would ever return to profitability, and its poor financial prospects are indicative of pressure on coal plants in New England and throughout the U.S. — all reasons why the plant’s owners threw in the towel. Even Warren Buffet, the country’s most respected investor says that it’s time for coal to be put out to pasture. An article on the Sierra Club web site quotes him as saying, “Coal will gradually decline in importance.” Buffett is putting his considerable assets where his mouth is. According to the same article, he owns MidAmerican Energy, which under his ownership has become the country’s top provider of wind power. The winds of change are upon us. As Dominique noted,
“This isn’t God, changing our climate. This is us. And that is good news—because it means we can do something about our climate changing.”
Let’s keep the pressure on so that we can eliminate plants that are powered by fossil fuels like Brayton Point, and build more like Solana. Photo: Creative Commons