, Salem, MA

Local News

December 14, 2013

Salem power plant debate widens

Independent agency buoys supporters; opponent unswayed


“We rely on ISO-New England for information about reliability, so we would defer to them on the issue,” said Mary-Leah Assad.

ISO has asked the state Supreme Judicial Court, which will hear the Conservation Law Foundation’s appeal of state approvals won by plant owner Footprint Power, to issue a ruling by the end of January. Dragging this out any longer, ISO said, will jeopardize the project and potentially threaten energy reliability in the region.

The strong stand by ISO brought an equally strong reaction from one of the leaders of the Salem Alliance for the Environment, a local environmental group that, while it has reservations about fossil fuels, has given the gas plant “qualified support” because it sees it as a bridge technology to a future time when the state can rely more on wind, sun and other measures.

In a blog post on SAFE’s website, Jeffrey Barz-Snell, co-chairman of the grass-roots group, questioned the opposition by two traditional allies, the Conservation Law Foundation and HealthLink, a North Shore environmental group.

“Is this what CLF and HealthLink really want to do: prevent the construction of the cleanest and most efficient gas plant in New England and ensure the use of trailer-mounted diesel generators?” he wrote.

“... Ladies and gentlemen, if CLF has their way here, we are going to be stuck with a hulking, rusting coal-fired plant here in Salem and a bunch of trailer-mounted generators running on diesel.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at

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