SOMERSET – State Rep. Patricia Haddad said people are wondering why their electric bills are going up. There are a lot of questions about the future of the Brayton Point power plant. There are plans for a gas pipeline to be extending to the region. Some people have asked why the coal fired power plant at Brayton Point just can’t be converted to a gas power plant. And Rep. Haddad and state Sen. Michael Rodrigues have filed legislation that, if passed, would directly impact energy in Somerset.
Information about all those issues will be given to people who attend a public briefing on energy legislation in the performing arts center at Somerset Berkley Regional High School on Saturday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Rep. Haddad said part of the reason why she wanted to have the briefing was to give people accurate information about energy issues in the state and make them understand why certain things are happening in the industry. She will explain how those issues impact Somerset, which is currently the home of one large coal fired power plant and another site where a power plant used to operate.
“Knowledge is power, as the cliche goes,” Rep. Haddad said. “So I want to give the people of Somerset some knowledge and they can decide what to do with it.”
Rep. Haddad said presentations will be given at the energy briefing and she and Sen. Rodrigues will answer questions for the public. She said if they do not have the answers, they will contact agencies that do have the information people are looking for.
Rep. Haddad said people can use some of the information that is given to them on Saturday to formulate their opinions on whether they want the Brayton Point power plant to shut down or not.
Rep. Haddad filed legislation in January that would help coal fired power plants to refuel with natural gas and would infuse offshore wind power into the Commonwealth’s energy mix.
“I want to assure people that the senator and I are working on this, that we’re not leaving the energy issue to chance,” Rep. Haddad said.
Rep. Haddad said one of the bills filed by Sen. Rodrigues would require, that if the Brayton Point property is shut down as a power plant, it would have to be cleaned up and the towers taken down, so that the site could be used again in the near future and so Somerset would not be in the same position as when the Montaup Electric plant closed down. Since that plant has closed, there have been a few owners and scrap metal has been taken off the property but no industry has replaced the power plant that was there, which means the town is receiving a lot less revenue from the property owner.
“We don’t want that to happen at Brayton Point,” Rep. Haddad said. “We don’t want them to close, but we don’t want them to close and just walk away.”
The Brayton Point power plant is scheduled to shut down in 2017.
Rep. Haddad said she thinks people in Somerset just want to see the Brayton Point power plant continue to be used for electric generation. She said the Brayton Point power plant’s place in the big energy game in the region will be discussed at the public briefing.
“It’s not so much about the owners of the plants because they are going to do what they are going to do,” Rep. Haddad said. “But if Somerset residents have good information, they can advocate to bring that plant back or not bring it back.”
Rep. Haddad said the people who will be at the briefing to answer questions will be she and Sen. Rodrigues and their staffs. She said there is nobody from state agencies or the power plant who are scheduled to be in attendance, as far as she knows.
Committee assignments were recently done in the state Legislature. Rep. Haddad is waiting for a public hearing to be held for the energy bill she filed.
Rep. Haddad said people need to think of the region’s needs for power. She said she learned a lot about energy during the past year when she talked to people from around the world about the subject so that she could write the legislation that she filed.
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