By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — It’s the beginning of the end for Salem’s coal-burning power plant.
CSL Argosy delivered the last barge of coal yesterday to Salem Harbor Station, which is scheduled to close in May 2014.
The barge docked at 11:30 a.m. yesterday and will offload 50,000 tons of coal before leaving Salem Harbor this afternoon.
“Based on currently expected operations, we do believe that this will be the last ship (coal delivery), said Peter Furniss, CEO of Footprint Power, in an email to The Salem News yesterday.
New Jersey-based Footprint Power purchased Salem’s power plant site last year and has filed plans with the city to build a natural gas power plant.
The 65-acre site is a deep-water port next to the city’s ferry landing; it has been a power plant since the 1950s.
Deputy Salem Harbormaster Patrick Mulligan said everything was going smoothly as the barge docked yesterday.
Mulligan confirmed that yesterday’s coal barge was the last expected delivery for Salem Harbor Station. The plant schedules all deliveries through the city harbormaster’s office, which oversees the ship’s landing and safety protocols.
Footprint Power plans to build a 670-megawatt, $800 million natural gas plant at Salem Harbor Station. Company executives have said they will close the current coal- and oil-fired plant next May, demolish some buildings, clean up the property and open the new plant in June 2016.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.