Footprint hoped to have the lawsuit resolved quickly, as it anticipated opening in June 2016 and needed 29 months to build the plant, before which it needed to obtain financing and order equipment. Silverstein said that while the lawsuit “certainly put pressure on the timeline,” he still expected the plant would be constructed and ready for operation on schedule.
The agreement was also praised by HealthLink, a Swampscott-based environmental organization that continues to oppose the plant.
“We applaud CLF for putting some constraints on this plant,” said organization President Jane Bright. “I think it’s a very good step to contain the damage that this plant would do.”
Bright said the settlement was precedent-setting, as it involves what’s likely to be the first power plant built in the state since the aforementioned state global warming act.
Jeff Barz-Snell, co-chair at the Salem Alliance for the Environment, said he was happy that the project could move forward and that the agreement seemed fair.
“I think if you are going to build a fossil-fuel power plant ... you have to think about carbon emissions,” he said. “The agreement forces Footprint to do that.”
Barz-Snell’s organization broke with other environmental groups to support the plant, a decision he said was based on the proposed plant’s efficiency and design.
“This is exactly the sort of plant that you need as a transitional step between an electric grid mainly reliant on fossil fuels to one that is going to mainly rely on renewables,” Barz-Snell said.
CLF itself called the agreement “groundbreaking” in a statement yesterday.
“This agreement shows how natural gas can be a tool for reducing greenhouse emissions if it is appropriately conditioned and constrained in a manner that is consistent with the need to decarbonize our energy system,” said CLF attorney Shanna Cleveland in the statement.