To the editor:
Even as the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) charges ahead with its plan for a 55-megawatt (MW) gas “peaker” plant in Peabody, solutions that will make this plant obsolete are rapidly developing.
The latest technological advance comes from Somerville startup Form Energy, which is planning a 300 MW storage system to be up and running by 2023. The system depends on the oxidation and deoxidation of iron pellets to store and generate electricity — and the battery will be able to generate for days as opposed to hours promised by current industrial batteries, at a fraction of the cost of current technologies. A Cambridge company is working on promising molten-salt technology with similar advantages.
These are just two of the clean green options being developed to avoid fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. MMWEC is promising to decommission an existing 20 MW plant that is near the end of its useful life for a net gain of 35 MW of capacity in return for our $85 million investment. I would argue that we should live with the capacity we have for a few years as storage technology and offshore wind develop. Then we will have a clear picture of which of the many promising new storage technologies will win the day. There is a good chance that there will be no need for this fossil fuel-burning plant judging by the rapid advance of dependable green power and electricity storage. I suggest that the MMWEC withdraw its plan and focus on a green solution to their capacity needs. It’s not too late to take the renewable approach to energy. To the MMWEC: Please don’t let the impetus of this clearly unneeded project set back our goal to remove fossil fuels from our energy mix. It’s time to change course.