Brockton Power Co. is touting a new report, from a consultant paid by the company, that says its proposed power plant would displace other facilities. But there’s no guarantee this will happen, according to the company that oversees power distribution in New England.
It’s a key part of the argument for building a power plant in Brockton — that older, dirtier plants will be phased out, thanks in part to the new facility.
But according to the company that oversees power distribution in New England, there’s no guarantee this will happen.
“For our part, it would be difficult for us to speculate on that,” said Erin O’Brien, spokeswoman for ISO New England.
Brockton Power Co. is seeking to build 350-megawatt plant on Oak Hill Way, which would primarily burn natural gas.
The company is touting a new report, from a consultant paid by the company, that says the plant would lead to cleaner air in the region.
If the plant is built — and other plants in New England are used less often — it would greatly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, according to the report from consultant ICF International.
Nearly 140,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for climate change, would be prevented from entering the atmosphere.
“We’re hopeful (the report) is going to put to rest a lot of the unfounded fears that residents and public officials have about the plant polluting the city and the area,” said Brockton Power spokeswoman Amy Lambiaso.
The consultant admittedly bases its findings on an assumption — that dirtier plants will be used less in the near future.
But electricity needs are expected to rise sharply in New England in coming years. And ISO New England is not confirming that any plants will used less in the future.
An environmental advocacy group that opposes the plant called Brockton Power’s pledge of cleaner air an “empty promise.”
“There is nothing in the contracts of these aging plants that says these plants will go off-line when cleaner power plants are built,” said Sylvia Broude, a community organizer for the Boston-based Toxics Action Center.
“These plants are run by different companies — private companies hoping to make a profit in the industry,” Broude said.
Lambiaso, the Brockton Power spokeswoman, responded that it will make the most economic sense for older plants to be phased out.
The Brockton plant will displace others because it will produce electricity more cheaply, she said.
“It’s all market-based,” Lambiaso said.
According to the consultant report, plants that may be used less in the future include the Mirant Canal oil- and gas-burning plant in Sandwich; Salem Harbor Station, a coal- and oil-burning plant in Salem; and the gas-fired Dighton Power Plant.
Brockton Power is currently seeking a permit from the state Energy Facilities Siting Board to build the plant. The company hopes to open the plant by 2011.
The project has proven controversial due to its size — it would have a 250-foot-tall smokestack — along with its possible health effects and its location near neighborhoods and businesses.
Kyle Alspach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.