GE wins contract for repowering of Salem Harbor plant

General Electric (NYSE: GE) said Nov. 1 that it has worked out an agreement with Footprint Power to provide the Salem Harbor Station with a new 674-MW natural gas facility.

This project, said GE, would address local reliability needs, reduce regional emissions and facilitate the introduction of the renewable resources Massachusetts requires to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

Footprint Power bought the coal- and-oil-fired plant last year from Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) with the express intent of running it for a while as it worked on replacing it with new gas-fired capacity.

“We selected GE’s technology because it provided the best combination of performance and world-class flexibility and efficiency,” said Scott Silverstein, president and COO, Footprint Power. “As one of the most flexible and lowest emitting plants on the grid, we can reduce system-wide emissions and system-wide wholesale energy costs while efficiently utilizing natural gas and enabling the integration of additional renewable resources onto the power grid.”

Footprint Power has built on the city of Salem’s efforts to study the potential uses for the power plant site, minimizing the size of the new plant and maximizing the land available for future, non-power uses. Footprint Power’s new combined-cycle plant will replace the existing Salem Harbor Station while occupying just 20 acres of the 65-acre site.

“GE is working closely with Footprint Power, Salem officials and Massachusetts regulators to turn this 62-year-old facility into a much smaller, much quieter, and much cleaner 21st century plant,” said Victor Abate, president and CEO of Power Generation Products-GE Power & Water. “Occupying less than a third of the current site, the new plant will efficiently use the land to allow the community to reclaim and reshape the Salem waterfront.”

For the $200m power equipment contract, GE will supply its FlexEfficiency* 60 technology. The Salem Harbor Redevelopment Project:

  • Dramatically reduces regional CO2, NOx, SO2 and mercury emissions. The GE units will be among the most environmentally advanced in the country, meeting or exceeding the environmental performance of every other fossil fuel power-generating facility in New England. For example, the new plant will reduce regional carbon emissions by an average of approximately 450,000 tons per year.
  • The new plant will have the ability to turn down during off-peak hours, eliminating the extra fuel and emissions output associated with a plant startup. With the new plant in operation, it is projected that regional NOx emissions will be reduced by 10%; SO2 emissions will be reduced by 8%; and mercury emissions will be reduced by 6%. These reductions result from the efficiency and flexibility of the GE equipment in the new facility. Reductions resulting from retirement of the existing coal and oil facility are not even counted in these totals. The plant will also use air-cooled condensers, completely eliminating the use of hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day from Salem Harbor for once-through cooling.
  • Supports renewable energy while ensuring reliable energy. The facility, which will utilize two GE 7F 5-series gas turbines, will include the first “Rapid Response” power island to be deployed in New England. The “Rapid Response” capability will enable the plant to add 300 MW of power to the grid within 10 minutes, supporting the continued deployment of wind and other renewable energy sources, while maintaining an efficiency level that rivals any fossil fuel unit in New England.

Plant at this site needed for grid reliability

According to ISO New England (ISO-NE), Footprint’s new Salem Harbor facility is needed to maintain the reliability of electricity supply in the greater Boston area beginning on June 1, 2016. In February 2013, Footprint cleared the ISO-NE Forward Capacity Auction to supply generating capacity beginning in 2016. The project will receive a five-year capacity payment incentive to construct the facility and fill the power gap in the Northeastern Massachusetts (NEMA)/Boston zone.

Recently, the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) approved Footprint Power’s petition to construct the new power plant, a key step in moving forward with the project that followed unanimous approvals of the Salem’s Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeal and Conservation Commission. Construction of the plant will create an average of 320 construction jobs, peaking at 600 jobs and ending up with 30 to 40 permanent positions.

The existing coal and oil-fired Salem Harbor Station will shut down at the end of May 2014, and GE’s equipment will ship in late 2014/early 2015. Commercial operation is planned for June 2016.

The existing Salem Harbor plant has been used for power generation since 1951. It has four separate units, which were owned and operated by a subsidiary of Dominion from 2005 until August 2012, when an affiliate of Footprint became the owner of the facility. Units 1 and 2, both coal-fired, were removed from service at the end of 2011. Of the two remaining units, one is coal-fired and one is oil-fired.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows the Salem Harbor plant taking coal earlier this year from the Cerrejon mine in Colombia through Freepoint Commodities LLC. The plant also took oil earlier this year from Freepoint Commodities.

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.