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October 11, 2013

State board OKs Salem power plant

(Continued)

Scott Silverstein, Footprint Power president and chief operating officer, said they plan to have the new plant built and operating by June 1, 2016.

The plant will be a “quick start” facility, meaning it will be able to generate nearly half of its output to the power grid in 10 minutes, with the remainder available in the course of an hour.

The facility is proposed to use 18 acres of the 65-acre site. The property, a deep-water port next to the city’s ferry landing, has been a power plant since the 1950s.

Footprint officials hope to have all their permits in hand by early next year in order to complete financing. Demolition of oil tanks on the property could begin next month.

The morning’s siting board vote was 6-0, with one member, Penn Loh, abstaining. Roughly 15 people attended the two-hour hearing, held at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities offices at South Station in Boston.

The board also tacked on two amendments to Footprint’s petition: the creation of an outreach plan to inform the public of any remaining development activity at the site; and adoption of a “community benefits agreement,” a lengthy list of conditions to handle the plant’s impact on the surrounding area, such as requiring construction vehicles be hosed down before leaving the property (to minimize dust).

The power plant is Salem’s biggest taxpayer. Throughout the process, Driscoll has said the plant redevelopment will be an economic boost and improve public access to Salem’s waterfront.

Driscoll stressed that a lot of attention has gone into the project “to make sure this is done right.”

“At some point in 1950 there was never a process like this to approve that (coal-burning) power plant,” she said.

Linda Haley attended the morning hearing on behalf of Salem’s Point and Derby Street neighborhood groups.

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