SALEM — Things are looking good for Footprint Power and the 630-megawatt natural gas power plant it wants to build on the present site of Salem Harbor Station.
The New Jersey developer has reached a tentative agreement with the Conservation Law Foundation, the environmental organization that appealed an important approval the $800 million project received last year from a state energy board.
The settlement ends months of behind-the-scenes wrangling over the future of the proposed plant, an effort that drew in local officials, including state Rep. John Keenan and Mayor Kim Driscoll, both of whom argued the project was vital to the city and region.
Under the terms of the agreement, Footprint is required to keep its carbon dioxide emissions below a set level — 2,279,530 tons per year — until 2025, and then at lower and lower levels each year afterward, as is spelled out under the 2008 Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. Among other things, CLF had argued in its lawsuit that Footprint hadn’t shown that the new power plant would comply with emission standards set by the act.
As part of the settlement, Footprint also has agreed to end the plant’s commercial operations by the end of 2049 and to completely decommission it within the following two years.
Driscoll said yesterday that she was “very happy” about the settlement, though she noted it still needs approval from the Energy Facilities Siting Board in order to become final.
“I think it’s fair to say that we thought all along this was a project that was good for the city, good for the commonwealth and good for the environment,” Driscoll said.
Footprint President Scott Silverstein also applauded the agreement, saying that the carbon emissions requirements reflected the company’s commitment to the environment.
“We’re happy to have found that framework and to reach an agreement on how we demonstrate that,” he said. “This is a good day for the project; it’s a good for the city of Salem ... to be able to put some of these challenges behind us and move on to the next step.”