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.

John Dumas May 12, 2011 at 10:48 AM
This is the last chance to really build up the budget with things we will not be able to maintain later.
Sandy Martin May 12, 2011 at 11:52 AM
I see this as a great "positive". It's a fantastic waterfront property; the potential for improvements are practically limitless: living spaces, retail, restaurants, a boardwalk, docks for visiting boats, a power windmill farm (wouldn't it be great if Salem could power itself with wind??!!), lovely green walkways with beautiful trees and flowers....it's exciting! Now, all we need is a developer with money and vision to make it all happen. Location, location, location!
Jim M May 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM
I think the city should make it into a place the everyone can enjoy, like an amusement park ! welcome to the Salem Ocean Side Board walk! where you can have shops food and fun rides a mini Disney ... hello Walt how about this for an Idea
Jim M May 12, 2011 at 12:29 PM
and it should have the local history to the theme such as the Pirates, witch craft ect. a place the families could spend the day and enjoy the water front that the monstrous stacks and building took away from everyone for all these years.
Sandy Martin May 12, 2011 at 12:31 PM
I'm pretty sure that neighbors in the area (like me) wouldn't go for a mini-Disneyland. I would very much welcome a hotel; residential condos (owner-occupied means "taken care of"); and retail shops...all would have a sizeable tax contribution to the city. An amusement park would simply not generate enough tax revenue to cover the loss of the plant.
Brendan May 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM
What now? I expect that every person that supports the closing will be spending every cent of their earnings IN Salem to help recoup all the lost tax revenue. Ha!
Mr.Pinches May 12, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Why not use the land to lure in one of the few industries that appears to thrive in Massachusetts,biotech. Creating a pirate boardwalk with more cafe/restaurants will only hurt the plethora of restaurants already in Salem. If Salem doesn't entice some type of industry not based on tourism it is never going to find a fraction of that lost tax money. Heck, this would even be a nice opportunity to Salem State if there were biotechs just down the street. If Salem State (now university) could leverage that into getting some research money funneled into the school's science program that could become a boon to the community. Yet I'm sure more idiots just want more nice boutiques and cafes. Also more over priced condos along the water until all the residents have to start parking in Danvers in Peabody. If this city doesn't start looking at real streams of tax revenue outside of the Halloween tourism the city is going to crash and burn VERY quickly. The near harassment levels already seen with parking tickets is just an indication that when this large source of tax dollars is gone things are going get ugly fast. I hope you and your families enjoy the cotton candy, lattes and outrageous taxes!
john May 12, 2011 at 04:57 PM
I really can not understand why there is not any political backlash. This administration has been spending more money then it has been bringing in. This administration has spent more money on stupid pet projects then every other city on the North Shore put together. Still on the lips is Essex Street Mall, Druggie Park, and Winter Island. Some city managers call it good resource management, by taking advantage of State Grants, and trying to grow the city. (Nothing is free, no mater how pretty you make the wrapping) Other city managers say, this is the worse recession we have ever had, better not spend any money, and lets be kind to the Tax payers but not running up the Bill. Seems over 90% of the cities in this area, understand what “Recession” means, while Salem does not understand what “Taxpayers are Broke” means. Still, in the face of this drastic loss of revenue, the city administration keeps pushing forward with plans to spend, spend, spend, and spend. Along with the 400 Million we owe to the city workers pension fund, for all the school admin’s that make over 100K a year in retirement... how is this city going to continue to spend millions on Park's Essex Street mall, Winter Island, Senior Center and many other Budget Busters... as everything just keeps chugging along like Salem Taxpayers have limitless pockets. PS: What is the plan for paying that $400 Million pension liability? Why is it out of the news at the moment?
Jim M May 12, 2011 at 04:58 PM
well I may or may not be an IDIOT who the hell are you to Judge this on anyone! but in most cases the Universities do not pay much if any taxes at this time even though the state is trying to have them make some type of payments in lieu of taxes or other contributions they make to local governments so try again and to waste the land for a over sized parking lot wow now that will bring in lots of money now won't it and isn't Cat Cove being used by Salem state for that reason it's been there for years?
john May 12, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Reality Check: The Land is extremely polluted. Will be forever. Or maybe you don’t think raw coal sitting on 5 acres of land does not pollute? The land has a huge building on it that will take years to dismantle. The land is not owned by the city of Salem. So we can not make any plans for it’s use. The current owners have the right to rebuild a Gas Powered Plant, or some other resource. It is their land. There will never be a public park, condo housing, or industrial complex in our lifetime. Once the plant closes, they will ask for a dramatic reduction in property taxes, they will get that reduction, and there is nothing we can do about it. Anything anyone else tells you is a lie. Salem takes a huge loss on this deal, anyway you try to dress it up. Love to see how the city explains that this is a good thing for the city like I have heard sooo many times over the last 6 years.
Lisa May 12, 2011 at 05:40 PM
There used to be over 600 jobs there, now we are down to less than 150. There used to be over 10 million dollars from that plant, now there is less than half. There also used to be three additional employees there, but they were killed in a terrible explosion, and the plant was found at fault due to negligent inspections. That was several years ago, and Dominion has STILL not settled with the families of the three men who were killed. The plant is 60 years old--that's 30 years past the lifespan stated by it's own industry. There are many opportunities for a city that hosts a deep water port on a 65 acre waterfront property 14 miles outside of Boston. Let's start moving toward the inevitable bright future, and stop clinging to the devil we know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH8xiZNCQWs
Mr.Pinches May 12, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Jim,Cat cove isn't for biotech it is a marine laboratory. I'm sorry if you aren't involved in the science field and that sounds like splitting hairs to you but there is a vast difference. I'm also sorry if you can't understand what bringing biotechs into the city might do. Because if the schools was smart enough to exploit this (they may not be,that wouldn't surprise me) it would draw a greater pool of science students. The chemistry program has been traditionally small yet the bio program is a bit larger (yet they had to remove some of the math prereqs because it was too hard for some and they were afraid to loose those students). Yet neither dept seems to have really gotten on the molecular bio wagon too much which is another problem entirely.Anyway, the better the quality AND quantity of students then the greater the interest of Biotechs looking for a location to set up shop. This could bring in more tax dollars and in a nice feedback loop bring in more students. Those students are also tax dollars and with these companies down the road they are potentially future tax dollars. Jim,I didn't say anything about a parking lot but Salem certainly could use some of those,that was my point. Jim,I would also like to thank you for contributing data to test against the hypothesis that you are an idiot. I would like to tell you,the results are interesting. ;)
Naumkeag May 12, 2011 at 06:38 PM
@john, you have to be blind if you don't see how this plant closing is a good thing for the city. Continuing to chase that almighty dollar with no vision for the future is what has gotten us into the current economic and environmental shit-show. And jim, calling people out as idiots only serves to discredit you and any arguments you post here.
Peter Lake, LAKE Real Estate May 13, 2011 at 11:51 AM
For those who think removal of the Salem power plant will open us a great new area for development, they need to be reminded that adjacent to the power plant is a munipipal waste water plant. Any development ideas need to keep that in mind.
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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