Last Coal Plants in New England to Voluntarily Close, Transitioning to Renewable Energy Parks

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Merrimack Station in Bow

According to a news release from Granite Shore Power:

The transformation of Merrimack Station in Bow and Schiller Station in Portsmouth into new, clean energy facilities will mark the end of coal-fired generation in New England and facilitate exciting new economic growth at each location.

The agreement between Granite Shore Power and EPA paves the way for battery, solar, and other clean energy facilities.

Schiller Station in Portsmouth will become a renewable battery storage facility.

Merrimack Station at Bow’s 400 acres will host renewable projects, including solar, battery storage systems and other alternatives.

BOW – Granite Shore Power announced Wednesday a historic agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in which the parties have set a firm date for the voluntary closure by GSP of operations at Merrimack Station, New England’s last remaining coal-fired power plant, as well as Schiller Station.

This agreement will facilitate the creation of first-of-their-kind “Renewable Energy Parks” in the state of New Hampshire.

GSP’s decision to set a firm closure date for coal-fired operations at both Merrimack and Schiller is part of the company’s long-standing repowering plan, according to a news release from Granite Shore Power.

 “From our earliest days as owners and operators, we have been crystal clear; while our power occasionally is still on during New England’s warmest days and coldest nights, we were firmly committed to transitioning our facilities away from coal and into a newer, cleaner energy future.  By pursuing and ultimately entering into this voluntary agreement with the U.S. EPA, we are keeping that commitment,” said Jim Andrews, CEO of Granite Shore Power.

The Conservation Law Foundation called it a victory for health, clean air and water, and the climate.

“The end of coal in New Hampshire, and for the New England region as a whole, is now certain and in sight,” said Tom Irwin, Vice President Conservation Law Foundation in New Hampshire.

“Now we must vigorously push for the phaseout of other polluting fuels like oil and gas.  New England is positioned to be a leader in building a future where our energy comes from 100% clean sources, and fossil fuels no longer pollute the climate and threaten the health of our communities.”

Merrimack Station will cease operation of its coal-fired boilers by June 1, 2028, or under certain circumstances, June 1, 2027. Schiller will not operate its coal-fired boilers after December 31, 2025.

Two decades ago, a fifth of New England’s electricity came from coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Through lawsuits, market-based strategies, and public protests, CLF has worked to shutter aging, polluting coal plants across the region and end New England’s reliance on coal, the CLF release said.

Granite Shore Power said as part of the redevelopment plan, Schiller Station is advancing a battery energy storage system, taking energy from the grid during low demand and putting it back on the grid during peak periods. Schiller is on the Seacoast and will be integral in supporting reliability daily during peak hours and storage for the wind power that is now being built off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and in the Gulf of Maine.

“The New Hampshire Seacoast is an area of high-energy demand and through the repowering of Schiller Station, we will provide carbon neutral power to support the businesses and families of New Hampshire.  Our facilities are ideally situated near the infrastructure necessary to transition the region to the next generation of energy resources,” stated Andrews.

Through the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in Washington D.C. and the continued shift toward a more electrified economy in New England, developing on-demand generation resources has become more critical than ever to ensure electric reliability for New Englanders.  With the continued support of state, federal and local leaders, the redevelopment of both Merrimack and Schiller will enhance the interconnection utilization at the facilities and advance the region’s overall generation mix.

“This Agreement is a significant accomplishment in driving clean energy forward, and it took a rejection of rhetoric, a focus on facts and a commitment to shared objectives.  We thank U.S. EPA for their leadership and partnership over the past six years and look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to deliver reliable, clean energy for New England,” Andrews concluded.

The settlement agreement signed Wednesday resolves both a lawsuit brought by CLF and the Sierra Club under the Clean Water Act, currently pending before the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and advocacy by CLF and the Sierra Club blocking Clean Water Act permits for the two facilities.

“This historic victory is a testament to the strength and resolve of those who never wavered in the fight for their communities and future,” said Ben Jealous, Sierra Club Executive Director. “The people of New Hampshire and all of New England will soon breathe cleaner air and drink safer water, and I’m incredibly proud to see the region continue to grow as a leader in the clean energy transition.”

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