Salem Harbor Power Station to Close — What Now?

Though Dominion has announced the plant's closure, Salem will still need to overcome a blow to its tax base and make plans for future use of the site.

Dominion has officially announced - and oil-fired plant, , by June 2014.

On Wednesday, officials from Dominion said units 1 and 2 will shut down by the end of 2011. Two additional units and the entire station will close by a June 1, 2014 deadline.

What's Next?

Environmental/Health Advocates React

Immediately following the announcement the plant would close, some, including John Kassel, president of the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), which has long pushed for the plant's closure, said the plant's retirement is a move toward "a healthier energy future for this region and beyond."

"At last, technology has caught up with these polluting vestiges of the past, making them uneconomic and impractical to run," he said in a press release.

“This is a tremendous victory for Salem’s embattled residents, particularly those most vulnerable to the devastating health effects of burning coal, including children and the elderly," CLF staff attorney Shanna Cleveland said in the same release.

State Rep. Lori Ehrlich, a resident of Marblehead, said: "This news is a long time coming for North Shore residents who have spent their lives downwind from this filthy coal plant. For 60 years this plant has fouled our air, land and drinking water and for that reason it will not be missed."

Though many celebrated the positive environmental and health implications, Salem's administration, .

Salem's Tax Base in Question, Site Usage in Question

On Wednesday, Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll said "the power plant is — far and away — the largest taxpayer in the City and its ceasing operation will have real impacts to the City's finances."

In November 2010, after it was reported , Driscoll told the City Council the power plant was paying the city $3 million in taxes and $1.75 million in pilot host fees.

"I doubt anything will generate the revenue they currently do," Driscoll said at the time.

The City has received a $200,000 grant from the Clean Energy Center, which will be used to fund studies on site usage. Though Driscoll called the grant "fortuitous" in November, on Wednesday she acknowleged the tight timeframe — three years — to come up with a gameplan for future site usage.

Driscoll said she is eager to explore "waterfront related redevelopment options that may exist."


What does this mean for Marblehead energy rates?

According to recently re-elected Municipal Light Commissioner Charles O. Phillips, the power station's closure will have no direct affect on the rates local residents pay for electricity. However, if ISO New England determines that the transmission lines currently in place are unable to sustain the town's energy needs during the hottest months of the year, Phillips said the plant may not close at all.

"ISO of New England will determine whether there is adequate transmission capability and on that basis we will be assessed an increasing amount for our (peak periods) and that will be seen in the rates,” he said, adding,“The ISO could determine that the transmission lines are not up to it and then the plant might be put into a must run condition whereby they will not be allowed to shut down and the rest of us will have to subsidize their activity and that will certainly affect our rates.”

Be sure to stick with Salem Patch as we bring you complete coverage of the Salem Harbor Power Station closure and redevelopment discussions. If you have questions about how this closure affects you, ask in the comments or email Editor Aubry Bracco at aubry@patch.com — we'll try our best to get all your questions answered.

Mr.Pinches May 13, 2011 at 05:22 PM
The plant closing is a good thing for the environment but a bad thing fiscally for the city. I don't think anyone was honestly arguing against those points. Jim wasn't calling anyone an idiot but used it in reference to himself. It was me that called people idiots for not understanding the need to bring in some type of business that the area wasn't already completely saturated with. While Jim may or may not be an idiot at least he took the time to read and nearly comprehend the posts he was commenting on,unlike other people.
Clark May 14, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Visit the Vision for Salem website www.visionforsalem.org to see a bold new plan for the city that is completely doable and completely realistic. Three brownfields developers have already approached Dominion to buy the property and clean it up. They do this all over the country. Many power plants have closed over the years and what do you think? Of course they get redeveloped. And quickly. The house lots and condos can be at the other end of the property from the waste treatment plant-- although I should mention there are lots of houses across the street today! and put in a hotel and the marina, which makes megabucks for the city. The plant can be torn down and remediated in 18-24 months. Over 300 construction jobs and at the end it doubles the tax revenue and brings 600 permanent, safe jobs to Salem. The whole time everyone is breathing clean air..... Salem has had years to plan for this and should have done the reuse study years ago. Then they would not suddenly find themselves in this quandary of having lived beyond their means.
KlassySalem May 14, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Completely doable and realistic? Those are dubious claims. http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/x1150914397/Our-view-A-lopsided-view-of-Salem-Harbors-future
Naumkeag May 14, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Thanks for the clarification Mr Pinches.
Hortence May 15, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Rumor has it that a New Dump will be going in there. Also low income housing. Also a Methadone clinic. This is pretty much what this city has come to expect. This city can't even clean a soccer field right. What makes anyone think they'll get this situation right. Please.


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