Last week, the decision was made to shutter the Salem Harbor Power Station over the next three years, officially closing in June 2014. The owner, Dominion Power, is an electricity and natural gas provider working primarily in the energy-intensive Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.
According to the Associated Press, Dominion chose to close the plant for economic reasons — the coal being burned for fuel is no match for the now-cheaper alternative, natural gas. ISO-New England, the company responsible for ensuring a steady source of electricity for local residents, initially denied the proposal to close the plant, but Dominion plans to take that step regardless.
Environmentalists in the area are thrilled that the plant will be closed. They have been working for almost 20 years to bring attention to the negative effects of burning coal to produce electricity. Lori Ehrlich, a Massachusetts State Representative and board member at Healthlink, congratulated all those who worked tirelessly to shut down the plant, including Salem Alliance for the Environment, Wenham Lake Watershed Association, Stop the Plant Now!, A Vision for Salem and many others.
The president of the Conservation Law Foundation, John Kassel, writes in a press release
: "At last, technology has caught up with these polluting vestiges of the past, making them uneconomic and impractical to run."
The city of Salem and ISO-New England still have some concerns though, including the redevelopment of the waterfront site, the loss of jobs, and the fact that the plant supplies electricity for up to 745,000 homes. Charles Phillips, the Municipal Light Commissioner, told the Marblehead Patch that there should be no immediate concerns of the loss of power, but cautions that if a solution to the loss in production isn't uncovered soon, then the plant may not shut down at all.
Dominion has made its decision and will take the time necessary to close the plant, but even the environmentalists' work is not over yet. Now should be the time that local residents start pushing for renewable energy options, as it would appease both sides of this debate while solving the problem of decreased energy production.
Video: Marblehead Patch