Campaign Updates

Brayton Point closure confirmed for 2017

The owners of Brayton Point have declared they intend to close the plant by 2017. (Read their letter to ISO-NE, the grid operators, here.) Articles from the Boston GlobeHerald News, and other sources confirm this and give some background on both the plant and the dire economic situation in Somerset. As the Globe article notes:

The 51-year-old plant has been on the edge of closing for a while. Brayton Point and Salem Harbor, long considered among the state’s dirtiest power plants, are among the last of the large coal-burning facilities in Massachusetts.
Cheryl LaFleur, acting chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — it regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil — on Monday called Brayton’s retirement the end of an era for a facility “that has been a critical part of the energy infrastructure for a long time.”
“It’s the availability of other resources that can run more economically that is challenging the older resources,” she said. “New England is going through a lot of change in its energy supply.”
Somerset resident Pauline Rodrigues, a member of a grass-roots group that has pushed for the plant to be closed, said she has mixed feelings about Brayton’s retirement, given that it is Somerset’s biggest taxpayer.
Brayton’s owners have agreed to pay the town $16.75 million through 2016, according to the town assessor’s office.
But in viewing the closing from a health perspective, Rodrigues said, “I am thrilled to death.”

Ensuring the future of local economies, and reliability of the power grid, is no easy feat, but it is a surmountable challenge. Efficiency efficiency, conservation, new transmission lines, renewables and a lower-impact, more distributed energy grid can supply the power we need. In order to tackle the economic challenges, Massachusetts has to dedicate itself to supporting communities in transition. By adequately funding reuse planning in Somerset, conducting a thorough community process, and advancing legislation which would support workers and municipalities affected by coal plant closure, we can build a brighter tomorrow.

RI legislators join the fight against coal energy

A recent letter from Rhode Island Legislators to the Patrick Administration illustrates that power decisions are regional economic, energy and public health concerns:

The opposition to coal energy and pending shutdown of Brayton Point in the next few years is reaching across state borders.

As the Rhode Island Legislature returned to session, 32 of them co-signed and submitted a letter this week to the Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs seeking a regional remedy to the controversial fossil fuel.

"We write today because we see a great urgency and great opportunity as changes in our energy grid force a rethinking of power decisions," the letter states.

Read the full story:

Coal Free Advocates visit Senators Warren, Markey

This past week, in efforts to gain support for our platform and mimic what environmental advocates and activist did in Nevada we met with Senators Warren and Markey to ask their help in moving Massachusetts to a clean energy economy. To make these meetings a success we had several voices present to help convey our message. Annie Rushman, Healthy Air Coordinator for the American Lung Association emphasized the importance of retiring coal in Massachusetts due to the detrimental effects on the health of constituents especially those in close proximity to plants like Brayton Point and Mount Tom.

State energy officials still seeking public input on decommissioning of power plants

From the Herald News


State energy officials are continuing to accept public comments to help form legislation on the decommissioning of power plants, including Brayton Point.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, which conducted a public hearing Monday night in Somerset that attracted more than 100 people, will accept comments until 5 p.m. on Jan. 20, said Krista Selmi, spokesperson for Richard Sullivan, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs.

Public comments should be aimed at helping the state pass new laws to “ensure the deconstruction, remediation and redevelopment or repowering” of power plant sites, including Brayton Point.

The 1,535-megawatt, mostly coal-fired power plant is slated to close June 1, 2017, based on filings by its new owners and negotiations between managing entity EquiPower Resources and ISO New England, the regional grid administrator.

Comments to the energy and environmental agency need to be directed to one of its administrators, Lauren Farrell, either by email at or in writing to the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: 100 Cambridge St., Suite 900, Boston, MA 02114.


Somerset Coal Plant Task Force Hearing, 1/6

Somerset needs your help! Please, come out to stand strong for Somerset and Southeastern Massachusetts!

Coal plants are closing across the nation and in Southeastern Massachusetts. This is a challenging time for Somerset and the region, but it is also an exciting time of opportunity. MA Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary, Richard K. Sullivan, heads the State's Coal Plant Task Force, which will hold an important public meeting in Somerset to listen to the citizens' concerns for the future with respect to the Brayton Point and Montaup power plant sites. This task force committee will consider providing state funds to host cities and towns affected by the transition away from coal-fired power plants. There is a pressing requirement for communities to show strong public participation in developing plans for transition and re-use of these sites in order to qualify to receive crucial funding to move our transition process forward, and plan for the need of workers and community. Our voices do make a difference!

We look forward to seeing you there!

WHO:                        Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan

                                   Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia

                                   Senator Michael Rodrigues

                                   Representative Patricia Haddad

                                   Members of the state's coal plant task force

                                   Local officials and the Public


WHEN:                        Monday, January 6, 2014, 6:00 p.m.


WHERE:                     Somerset Council on Aging115 Wood Street, Somerset



Hearing on the Clean Energy Commonwealth Bill

Join us at the state house on November 12th at 9:15 for a press conference and 10 a.m. hearing. Our coalition will testify in favor of H2935, An Act Relative to a Clean Energy Commonwealth. RSVP here or email jwool AT cleanwater DOT org. 

This legislation would phase out coal-fired power by 2020 while establishing a worker transition fund and creating worker training programs focused on clean energy jobs. Help support communities and shift our power grid by supporting this bill, H2935 and testifying in favor on November 12. Download a fact sheet about the bill here.

Brayton Point to Close by 2017

On Monday, 10/07, Energy Capital partners "filed papers indicating the Brayton Point Power Station would not provide power to the grid by 2017." Coal Free Massachusetts members responded quickly, noting the gains for the environment, the downturn of coal nationally, and the need for dedicated planning and financial resources to secure a just transition for Somerset and surrounding communities.

Read more about the response in the Fall River Herald News.

In a joint press release, several environmental and activist groups hailed the announced future closure of Brayton Point, noting that barely one month after the sale from Dominion and after completing $1 billion in pollution control upgrades, the new owner said it would be close operations in June 2017.
“Brayton Point is the largest and most modern coal-fired power plant in New England. If they can’t make a go of it, none of them can,” said Jonathan Peress, Vice President and Director of the Clean Energy and Climate Program for Conservation Law Foundation. “This is a death knell for coal in the region.” ...

Somerset Citizens Want Plan for New Economic Future

Survey Results Call for Shift Away from Coal and Heavy Industry and Toward Clean Development          

New Report: Brayton Point is Operating at Our Expense

UPDATE: Check out video & press coverage at the bottom of this post!

Emissions from coal-fired Brayton Point Power Station in 2012 caused between 15 to 39 premature deaths and a host of additional health impacts from heart attacks to emergency room visits according to a new analysis released by Coal Free Massachusetts. Although the aging plant, located in Somerset, MA, has been operating less than in years past and has undergone a significant retrofit, health damage associated with Brayton Point’s emissions continues to cast a heavy shadow on local communities as well as the region as a whole.

“Brayton Point’s continued operation presents a grave threat to our communities. From days lost at work to asthma attacks to hospitalization and death, the burning of coal at Brayton exacts a multi-million dollar toll every year,” notes Becky Smith, MA Campaigns Director at Clean Water Action and co-author of the report. “If we act now, we can transition our communities from Brayton’s calculable and deadly toll. Failure to do so is unacceptable: the cost of coal burning is simply too great.”

The report, “Brayton Point Coal Plant: Operating at Our Expense,” features analysis from MSB Energy Associates and the Clean Air Task Force that examines the plant’s 2012 emissions of fine particles, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Using a sophisticated model that incorporates pollution dispersion and health impact data, researchers estimate health costs that burden the economy with between $120 to $294 million in health care dollars for one year’s operation. Averaging emissions from 2010 – 2012, researchers estimate that on-going plant operation for the next decade would translate to $2.6 – 6.3 billion dollars in health expenses related to the plant’s emissions.

Read the report here.

On August 7, 2013, Coal Free Massachusetts, Partners for a Healthier Community and South Coast residents joined together to release the report Brayton Point: Operating at Our Expense in Fall River's Kennedy Park. Looking at 2012 emissions from the coal-fired power plant and projecting ten years into the future, the report shows the toll on health and economy that residents of Massachusetts and Rhode Island continue to bear. Included in the research are recommendations for alternative, healthier solutions to power, such as cost-saving energy efficiency, and policy suggestions for economic shift and redevelopment, which include transitional funding for plant workers and a multi-stakeholder study of redevelopment options. Fall River parent Mike Sylvia, Dr. David Weed of Partners for a Healthier Community, and representatives from Clean Water Action, Coalition for Social Justice, and American Lung Association spoke at the press conference. 

Check out press coverage of the event: Herald NewsProvidence Journal, EcoMass NewsWBSM and on WPRO


Governor Vetoes Haddad Tax Relief

July 17, SOMERSET — Gov. Deval Patrick last week vetoed language that state Rep. Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) had included in the state budget that could have provided money to Somerset over the next several years to provide tax relief to residents who have seen increases in property tax bills because of the decreased amount of revenue coming in from the power plants.
The governor instead amended the language to allow Somerset to apply for the money from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for one year. Rep. Haddad's proposal would have allowed the town to apply for the money up until 2019 under certain conditions that would allow Somerset to be eligible for the funding. Somerset could get up to $3 million in a year under Rep. Haddad's proposal and would have to provide documentation to the state to show how much money the town has lost as the value of the power plant properties have gone down.
Gov. Patrick also amended Rep. Haddad's proposal by adding a section which directs the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to provide not less than $100,000 to communities to conduct site assessments of retiring coal-fired electric generating power plants located in that community. 

Read more


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