, Salem, MA

Local News

May 31, 2014

Power plant's final hours

Looking back, ahead on Salem Harbor Station's last day of operation


“The power plant and its employees have for years been a true community partner, supporting Plummer Home youth with holiday gifts, musical instruments and monetary support. We are very grateful,” Nicole McLaughlin of the Plummer Home wrote in an email.

It was a huge school booster. Notably, past owner Dominion gave $1 million to the Salem public schools and a total of $200,000 to Salem Cyperspace and the Salem Education Foundation, two organizations that work closely with the schools. Current owner Footprint Power has continued the tradition.

“From my perspective, Dominion, and then Footprint, were early adapters to the notion that public schools are a community-wide responsibility and investing in them increases opportunities for our kids and can raise quality through targeted investment,” said Sarah Morrill of the Salem Education Foundation.

With the closing, the story line shifts to the future of the plant’s 65-acre site, and what the plant closing will mean for the environment and city. Footprint is in the final stages of approval for a natural gas power plant, and intends to develop the rest of the waterfront property, likely with marine and industrial uses.

“Like many in Salem, I am relieved to see the shuttering of the coal-burning power plant,” said Pat Gozemba, co-chairwoman of Salem Alliance for the Environment, another active environmental group.

“I look forward to working on the development of off-shore wind projects that will take advantage of the quick-start gas plant to be built by Footprint. Salem, using wind once again to advance our city and region. A new vibrancy is on the horizon for our port.”

While acknowledging the plight of workers and expressing hope they find new jobs, state Sen. Joan Lovely said she looks forward to what lies ahead.

“What replaces it will be smaller, cleaner and will fit better in the community,” she said of the proposed new gas plant. “I’m really excited. I never really thought this day would come, and here it is.”

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