History of Brayton Point power plant in Somerset

SOMERSET, Mass. (WLNE) — President Joe Biden will make a visit to Brayton Point on Wednesday, a power plant that was once the fixture of the Somerset landscape.

The coal-fired plant commonly mistaken as a nuclear power plant for the shape of its cooling towers was the largest in New England, providing power to the regional power grid.

It was announced in 2013 that the plant would be closing. The power station made the list of the “Filthy Five,” as one of the most environmentally harmful plants in Massachusetts.

Brayton Point was also named by the EPA as one of Massachusetts’s heaviest polluters in 2011.

“This plant was a huge source of water and air pollution in the area,” said Sean Mahoney of the Conservation Law Foundation.

Over 50 years, the landmark brought in hundreds of jobs and a huge chunk of the town’s revenue. Somerset has about a $63 million operating budget, and the plant paid $13 million in taxes a year, totaling nearly a 20% loss in operating revenue.

The power plant also employed about 240 workers.

The last coal plant in the state was shut down in June 2017.

When the Brayton Point power plant planned to close, there was talk surrounding what to do with the waterfront land. The top choice being renewable energy, including wind power.

“Somerset — like it or not — has been involved in the energy economy for 80 years. It would be nice to them get a piece of the clean energy economy which is coming,” said David Dionne of the Coalition for Clean Air.

The infamous 500-feet tall cooling towers were demolished in 2019 to make room for the Brayton Point Commerce Center to support manufacturing and the offshore wind industry.

The demolition permit for Brayton Point Commerce Center was temporarily pulled after demolition work sparked four fires that year.

In 2022, a judge ruled that the scrap metal operation at Brayton Point be shut down, after nearly three years of residents complaining the operation was spewing metal dust into their homes.

Wednesday, Biden will visit the power plant moving towards renewable and clean energy production.

In a release Tuesday, the White House said the president will talk about “tackling the climate crisis and seizing the opportunity of a clean energy future to create jobs and lower costs for families.”

The facility is set to open in 2026.

Categories: Massachusetts, News