Footprint Power closes on buy of Salem Harbor power plant

Footprint Power LLC on Aug. 4 completed its acquisition of the Salem Harbor power plant from Dominion Energy Inc., a unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D).

Footprint’s acquisition marks the beginning of a new phase in the life of the 63-acre site that has served as home to the coal- and oil-fired facility for more than 60 years, Footprint Power said in an Aug. 6 statement. Under Footprint’s ownership, the operating part of the plant will remain in operation through May 2014. At that time, the existing facility will be demolished and the site remediated. In advance of the acquisition, Footprint began the process of licensing a new natural gas-fired power plant on the Salem Harbor site.

Footprint has begun the formal permitting process for the natural gas facility on approximately one third of the 63-acre site and will work to develop the remaining real estate in a manner consistent with the city’s needs and long-range planning goals.

Scott Silverstein, Footprint’s President and COO, said: “By demolishing the existing facility when the remaining units are removed from service, remediating the site, and scaling back power generation to a small portion of the site, we look forward to the residents of Salem having access to their waterfront for the first time in generations.”

Footprint’s plans call for replacing the existing facility, which generated 748 MW at its peak, with two quick-start combined-cycle natural gas fired units. Together, the units will be capable, under normal operating conditions, of generating about 630 MW, with approximately 300 MW available to the grid within 10 minutes of start-up. The units will also have the capability to increase their output by approximately 10% during peak energy demand conditions. The quick-start capacity of this facility could help integrate more renewable generating resources into the ISO-NE system.

Footprint’s development efforts continued even while the Massachusetts Legislature considered comprehensive energy legislation, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick recently.

The closing of the transaction follows the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the transaction on July 27. Located in Salem, Mass., the four-unit coal and oil-fired facility began operation in 1952 and the two remaining operational units are scheduled to shut down at the end of May 2014. The plant consists of: Unit 1, an 80-MW coal-fired unit; Unit 2, an 82-MW coal-fired unit; Unit 3, a 150-MW coal-fired unit; and Unit 4, a 438-MW oil-fired unit. Units 1 and 2 were removed from service in December 2011.

A New Jersey-based company, Footprint Power was formed in 2009 by longtime power-industry executives to identify opportunities for the re-powering or re-purposing of older fossil-fuel fired generation facilities.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.