The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board approved plans this morning for a natural gas power plant to be built in Salem.
The state agency had been reviewing the proposal, submitted by Footprint Power, for the past year.
The coal-fired Salem Harbor Station power plant is scheduled to close in May. New Jersey-based Footprint Power purchased Salem’s power plant site last year and plans to redevelop the site, building a 670-megawatt, $800 million natural gas-fired plant.
While several more permits and approvals are needed, this morning's vote means the project has cleared a major hurdle.
"This is a historic morning," said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who attended this morning's hearing. "This is the largest and most important permit. Without this, there is no plant ... We're excited to be at this point."
Tonight, the project faces another vote: approval or disapproval of an "air operating permit" by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. at Bentley Elementary School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem.
This morning's EFSB vote was unanimous, 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.
For full details, see Friday's Salem News.