MA: One Step Closer to Coal-Free:
Statewide Coal Plant Revitalization Task Force launches

The effort to transition Massachusetts towards a coal-free future is picking up steam: last year our work founding the Coal Free Massachusetts Coalition created the pressure necessary for the state to form a Statewide Coal Plant Revitalization Task Force. The Task Force is charged with planning ahead for the retirement of the state’s last coal plants, preparing a plan for deconstruction, cleanup, and support for local jobs and municipal tax revenue. The Task Force has been meeting regularly since December, and we have helped community leaders watchdog the process. Starting with Salem Harbor coal-fired power plant, the Task Force has been touring facilities and hearing testimony from companies and experts.

 

Inching closer to retirement, the Brayton Point coal plant in Somerset, the largest and most modern of the remaining coal-fired power plants in New England, was sold. Only several years ago, the owners spent more than a billion dollars installing modern pollution controls, but it was sold this Spring for far less than that investment, raising uncertainty about this power plant’s future. Toxics Action Center continues to work with the Coalition for Clean South Coast to ramp up efforts to get their voices heard by the new owners, and in late April we held a public forum to expand the group’s base of support in town.

 

Also this March, the Mt. Tom coal-fired power plant in Holyoke threw in the towel with plans to close in 2016. The Independent System Operator (ISO) works like the conductor of a symphony for our New England power grid, coordinating which power plants are making electricity at what times to ensure there is no “silence” from the symphony and all our lights stay on. This March the ISO accepted Mt. Tom’s request to bow out in 2016. Toxics Action Center is helping Action for a Healthy Holyoke! to support redevelopment analysis for the site, as well as continue to ramp up support for the just transition of the workforce at the plant. Over the next few months, we will continue to organize with community leaders in Somerset and Holyoke, providing training, leadership development, and strategic advice as we watch for new developments in these efforts.