SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 11, 2013

Our view: CLF actions hurt city, region

(Continued)

While we would all love to be able to rely on renewable energy for most of our power needs, that is not the current reality. We are decades away from a time when wind, solar and thermal power can meet our energy needs. (And renewable energy has its own set of controversies, as witnessed by the fight over the proposed Cape Wind project off Cape Cod.)

ISO New England Inc., manager of the New England power grid, took issue with CLF’s assertion that the region could get by without the plant by relying on transmission upgrades and other “tools.”

“CLF is simply wrong,” ISO lawyers wrote in an Aug. 9 letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection. “Without Footprint, there would be a shortage of capacity in the (Northeastern Massachusetts/Boston) capacity zone for the 2016 through the 2017 commitment period.”

ISO went on to call Footprint “both the only choice and the best choice” to meet the region’s power needs.

The Footprint project is also the best plan — by far — for the taxpayers of Salem, where the property has accounted for a large portion of the tax base. It keeps payments coming in and opens up a large swath of the waterfront for marine-related development, including use as a port of call for cruise ships.

The Footprint plan also calls for the removal of the old plant and a complete cleanup of the site. For that reason alone, the project would be a significant step forward environmentally, but the good news doesn’t stop there. Replacing the coal-and-oil plant with the state-of-the-art gas facility will cut CO2 emissions by 450,000 tons — the equivalent of taking 90,000 cars off the road. That’s no small feat. The new plant also eliminates the need to draw water from the harbor for cooling purposes.

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