CT’s Last Coal Plant to Close

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 @ 04:02 PM gHale

Connecticut’s last coal-fired power plant, Bridgeport Harbor Station, will close by 2021 and replaced by a natural gas burning facility, plant officials said.

The gas-powered plant should be in operation by 2019 and will be capable of producing 485 megawatts of electricity, said officials at the plant’s owner, PSSEG. The Bridgeport plant is one of the few remaining coal-fired power-generating facilities in New England.

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Under an agreement between PSEG and Bridgeport city officials and community groups, the 47-year-old coal-burning plant would permanently shut down by July 2021 as long as necessary permits for the new natural gas facility are in place.

The planned closure of the Bridgeport plant comes amid dramatic declines in the use of coal to generate electricity in this region. In 2000, coal-burning facilities produced 18 percent of New England’s power, but that had plunged to just 5 percent by 2014, according to ISO-New England, which operates the region’s power grid.

There are currently only three other coal-fired plants still operating in New England: Brayton Point in Massachusetts and the Merrimack and Schiller facilities in New Hampshire. Two other coal-fired facilities, Mount Tom Station and Salem Harbor Station, both in Massachusetts, shut down in recent years.

“This is a true win for Bridgeport — not only adding new clean energy to the grid, but creating jobs, tax revenue and general economic activity within the region,” said Richard P. Lopriore, president of PSEG Fossil.

Increasing demand for natural gas by the region’s energy industry is a key driver behind multibillion-dollar proposals for new gas pipelines to be built in Connecticut and New England. But those pipeline plans are also drawing opposition from environmental groups that say utility customers will be paying for those new lines for decades, and will only increase our reliance on fossil fuel. Energy industry officials argue more natural gas means cleaner power generation and lower consumer prices for electricity.

Officials of PSEG said the company has received approval from the operators of New England’s power grid to go ahead with plans to replace the Bridgeport coal-fired plant with a natural gas facility. Under an agreement with the city, PSEG will create 350 construction jobs and about 20 permanent jobs at the new facility.

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