SOMERSET – The infrastructure for transmitting electricity at both the former Montaup Electric site and Brayton Point power plant could be used for transmitting wind power, state Rep. Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) said.
Rep. Haddad said she would like to include such a proposal in an energy bill for hydro power that Gov. Deval Patrick is filing.
“We have the infrastructure, the high intensity wires that feed right into the grid,” Rep. Haddad said.
That infrastructure has been used to transmit electricity from two coal fired power plants in town, only one of which is currently operating and is scheduled to shut down. The state has designated water off of Martha’s Vineyard as an area that could be leased by companies to locate wind turbines. Rep. Haddad said that area is a straight shot from Brayton Point.
Rep. Haddad said having to build new infrastructure to transmit wind power is what makes it expensive. She said using the infrastructure at Brayton Point to transmit the wind power represents an opportunity for the owner of the Brayton Point power plant to stay in business in Somerset. EquiPower, the owner of the power plant, has announced it will be shutting down operations in 2017. The company pays millions of dollars in lieu of taxes to Somerset.
“I think it’s a win-win for Equi-Power because it gives them an opportunity to redevelop the company, as well,” Rep. Haddad said of using the transmission infrastructure for wind power.
Rep. Haddad said using the electric infrastructure in Somerset to transmit the wind power is a preliminary idea, but said Gov. Patrick has made a commitment to wind power. She said using the electric infrastructure for the renewable energy would not only be an opportunity for Somerset, but the whole southcoast region to benefit from wind power.
Rep. Haddad said she thinks either one of the power plant sites in town could be used for transmitting wind power. The Montaup Electric site is no longer being used as a power plant, but transmission lines are still there. Brayton Point is still operating as a coal-fired power plant.
“If coal needs to go, if that’s what the people of Massachusetts want, we need to be nimble enough to be part of the future,” Rep. Haddad said.
Rep. Haddad said she has a vision of using the infrastructure in town for the wind power transmission, but said she would have to find people who would develop such a project, which she said she is in the process of trying to do.
Rep. Haddad said she has met with employees from the Brayton Point power plant and has given information they have provided to her to U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy and the state’s U.S. senators because it is a federal issue. She said Rep. Kennedy has been successful in getting a hold on the next electricity auction until it can be looked into if complainants have a case that there could be price fixing going on.
Rep. Haddad said the Brayton Point plant has the capability to put out 1,500 megawatts of power, which she said is a lot of power. She said gas generators for power plants that are being built now have a lower capacity. She said the wind power would start with a couple hundred megawatts and then be built up from there.
Rep. Haddad said transmitting wind power could be what replaces the operations at Brayton Point. She said there will never be wind turbines there, but it could be a site for transmitting power from them. And she said such transmission would allow Somerset to negotiate another payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement with the owner of the Brayton Point site to bring revenue into the town to help the tax base.
Rep. Haddad said she was meeting with a group last Friday to pitch why Somerset would be a good place for transmission of wind power. She said she has already spoken to a state representative for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket who she said is excited because of all the jobs the project could create.
“It’s all preliminary,” Rep. Haddad said. “I’m tapping every resource and continuing to say don’t forget Somerset, don’t mothball us because coal is going away. We have the opportunity to be part of the next wave.”
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