The story of the site of Salem Harbor Station – bordered on one side by the harbor itself and on the other by the historic streets of Derby Street and Fort Avenue – is really the story of our nation and of the hopes and aspirations of us, its people. And, with this site, it is told with remarkable consistency to a singular theme: powering progress. Salem was among the first of the settlements of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and, with its well-sheltered harbor, quickly became one of the most important trading ports in the British colonies. As the age of sail gave way to the age of steam in the middle of the 19th Century, India Wharf – which, with Orne’s Wharf, eventually became the southern border of the Salem Harbor Site – was expanded to accommodate a coal depot where sea-going vessels off-loaded their coal and the Salem & Lowell Railroad took the coal to power the manufacturing facilities in Lowell, MA. The site of that original coal depot is in the almost exact location of the now retired coal pile where coal was stored for Salem Harbor Station.
While the more than 150 years of use of the Salem Harbor site for coal is now – finally – at an end, the vision of Salem Harbor as a location for powering the progress of Massachusetts and the nation continues. Footprint is developing a state-of-the-art generating facility that reduces gas usage in New England, reduces costs of wholesale energy, dramatically reduces system-wide emissions including greenhouse gases and paves the way for greater reliance on renewable resources in the future. The new generating facility achieves all of this while occupying only a third of the site, leaving the remainder of the site for other constructive purposes, including public access to the waterfront. Footprint continually strives to be a good neighbor and has incorporated features in to our facility that reduce noise, increase public access and have a positive visual impact on the community.


The New England Electric Company, commonly known by its acronym “NEEC”, commenced construction of Salem Harbor Station on December 7, 1948. Initially consisting of two coal-fired generating units, the Station was built to meet the increasing demand for electrical power in the North Shore area after the end of World War II. Unit 1 came on line in November 1951, with Unit 2 in full operation by October 1952. The cost of construction was $30 million and a work force of 700 was required to complete the project.

Units 1 and 2 together provided about 160MW of electrical capacity – enough to power about 150,000 modern homes, but many more homes in this era of limited electrical needs. However, by the mid-1950’s it was clear that more was needed and NEEC began work on another coal-fired generating unit, Unit 3. Unit 3 had a capacity of 150MW and cost an additional $23.5 million. In 1972, NEEC brought the last of the four turbines of the original Station on the line: oil-fired Unit 4, with a capacity of 745MW, at a cost of $52 million.
Footprint Power brought the Station offline on May 31, 2014 after more than 65 years of service. At the height of operations, the plant had employed more than 300 individuals performing a variety of tasks – including fuel handling, maintenance, engineering, environmental compliance and accounting. By the time the last unit shut down, there were 106 men and women employed at the Station – all committed to serving the North Shore through the reliable delivery of electrical power at all times of day and night, in all weather, over weekends and holidays – many of them with tenures in excess of 30 years.

Footprint Power is proud to have worked with these talented and dedicated men and women since we acquired the Station in 2012. In addition to the years of service in maintaining the original four units of the Station, this team also been instrumental in laying the groundwork for the safe shut-down, decommissioning and now demolition of the existing structures and for the construction of Units 5 and 6, the new, state-of-the-art combined cycle units that will replace the old units.

PROJECTS | Salem Harbor

Salem Harbor is not only Footprint’s first project, it also came into being at about the same time that Footprint itself did. We identified Salem Harbor as the right place to implement our business plan on our very first official scouting trip back in February 2010. Salem Harbor topped our list based on its strong infrastructure (deepwater port access, proximity to interstate natural gas line and transmission headroom, among other things), the presence of an owner with a strategic outlook that did not value this asset and the level of engagement of the community. We had big dreams for Salem Harbor, but we knew they could only come to reality if the community had both the willingness and the capacity to dream big with us. We believed that the strong political leadership in Salem and the sophisticated and very well organized environmental and community groups that voiced concern about the existing facility would help us mould a new vision for the site that provided optimal outcomes for the broadest base. This belief was reinforced through a public review process sponsored by the City of Salem that examined the reuse potential for the site and through our many meetings with local leaders, members of the community and advocacy groups. By the time we closed on the acquisition of Salem Harbor from its prior owner in August 2012, we had a good understanding of the needs of the community and were able to launch the development program for the quick-start combined-cycle gas turbine project that will represent the first step in the redevelopment of this 65-acre site.
Future of
the Site
Combined-Cycle Gas Turbine Facility
Footprint is developing a quick-start combined-cycle gas turbine on an 18-acre portion of the 65-acre site. This facility will have the ability to provide 674 MW of power to the grid with nearly half of that output available in 10 minutes and the remainder over the course of an hour. In the near term, as one of the most efficient units on the grid, we anticipate that it will run a lot. Over time, as more renewable assets are added to the grid, we foresee it will be operated as a “firming” resource that is called upon when intermittent resources like wind and solar are unable to keep up with demand. The facility has been designed to be a good neighbor with engineering, architectural and landscape features intended to reduce sound, improve the visual impact and optimize the options for development on the remaining 40+ acres.

History of
the Site
The Salem Harbor site has rarely stood still and has a surprisingly long history in the energy industry. Jim McCallister briefly recounts this history in a letter to the Salem News.
Original Construction of Salem Harbor Station
The future is wind, solar and other no-carbon generating solutions supported by a sophisticated network of flexible natural gas electric generating facilities that run only when the no-carbon sources cannot meet the demand. The Salem Harbor site is poised to meet this future like few others.

First, Footprint is developing a new quick-start combined-cycle gas turbine on the site that will provide efficient, low-emission power to New England while the renewable generating fleet is still relatively small. As that fleet grows, our facility will be used to fill demand when wind resources fall off.

Second, Salem Harbor is uniquely suited to support off-shore wind, which is the most promising renewable resource for Massachusetts. The winds off of Cape Ann are some of the best in the nation and are quite close to land. Footprint Power is committed to try to serve this resource by dedicating some of the unused portions of the Salem Harbor site (including possibly the existing turbine hall) both for assembly, staging and launching of the floating wind assemblies that are used in deep-water locations like those near our site and for receiving the power from the wind farms and introducing it to the grid at our substation. Off-shore wind is currently in its infancy in the US, but we are in discussions with many of the major players in the sector and are hopeful that we can make this happen in Salem.

DEMOLITION AND REMEDIATION of the old Salem Harbor Station

Demolition of the old Station is being conducted in two main phases. In the first phase – which began in July 2014 and will run through December 2014, we will be demolishing the oil tanks and above-ground pipelines, the settling basins in which “bottom ash” was settled out from the water used to collect it, the coal conveyor and the “No. 5 Stack” – the second tallest stack on the site which contains the flues for Units 1, 2 and 3. In the second phase – which is scheduled to begin in March 2015, we will demolish the remaining structures on the site that are not intended for reuse, including the two remaining stacks, the boiler house, the administrative offices building and many of the remaining outbuildings. We will be reusing the guard house and are considering repurposing the portion of the turbine building that housed Units 1, 2 and 3 by retaining the steel structure and decking and rewrapping the space in a new curtain wall. Please follow us here to keep apprised of our plans as they develop!
When Footprint purchased the Station in August 2012, it immediately commenced a thorough environmental characterization of the site with over 320 borings and test pits and 34 ground water samples. Through this process, we confirmed that, over the years, the plant staff members have been careful stewards of the property and we found only three areas of concern that will need to be addressed through remediation. One of these areas – in the southwest corner of the site – has high levels of lead that appears to date from a time when that part of the site still hosted homes which, presumably, had been painted with lead paint which was either stripped or flaked in to the surrounding soils. The other two areas – one under a portion of the coal pile and one in the northeast part of the site – had heightened levels of vanadium and nickel, which are by-products of the oil combustion process and probably are the result of storage of oil ash on site – a perfectly acceptable activity at one time, but one that has grown in disfavor as we have learned more about the impacts of these constituents.

Footprint is fully committed to cleaning up these areas of concern and has engaged TetraTech, an international environmental firm, to perform the work. We expect that the actual movement of materials will begin in November 2014 and will be complete by the end of the year.

SCHEDULE | Interactive Map

Click an area on the map to see information about upcoming and completed demolition and construction.



CONSTRUCTION of the New Salem Harbor Station

Footprint is in the final stages of permitting its 674MW combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) for construction on the Salem Harbor site. It will consist of two units – called Unit 5 and Unit 6, in deference to the four units that were shut down – with one gas turbine and one steam turbine apiece. The units achieve state-of-the-art levels of efficiency, converting more than 58% of the energy in gas to electrical power introduced to the grid, the highest level of efficiency of any unit currently operating in New England. It is also designed to operate with unprecedented flexibility, including the ability to bring half of each unit’s output online within 10 minutes where the next most flexible CCGT in area takes 6 hours. Finally, the units incorporate the latest advances in emissions controls and noise reduction. With all of these features, the new Salem Harbor Station will accomplish some surprising results:

  • While somewhat counter-intuitive, the unit will actually decrease gas usage in New England. It does this by allowing the system operator – called ISO-NE (or “Independent System Operator-New England”) – to turn off less efficient units that would use more gas in the production of the same level of energy.
  • In a similar fashion, the new Salem Harbor Station will also produce a profound reduction in criteria emissions across New England by displacing more polluting units, with projections of 10% reductions in SOx, 8% reductions in NOx and 6% reductions in Mercury, in each case across the entire New England System.
  • Because natural gas when combusted produces about half of the CO2 emissions of coal or oil, by adding in the increased efficiency of the new Salem Harbor Station, we are able to reduce system-wide emissions of CO2 by approximately 450,000 tons each year over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of more than 90,000 cars off the road.
The new Salem Harbor Station was designed by CookFox, the architectural firm responsible for One Bryant Park in New York City – the largest LEED Platinum building in the world – with an eye to making the plant architecturally interesting and compatible with our historic neighborhood.


What is it that is going to be built on the site?
The new facility, which will continue to be called "Salem Harbor Station", will be a 674 MW natural gas-fired, quick-start, combined-cycle facility and will consist of two separate units, Units 5 and 6. Construction will take place on a portion of the 65-acre parcel that has housed the four separate electric generating units of the previous Salem Harbor Station since 1951. The new facility will occupy about 22 acres of the existing site and will be adjacent to the location of the old power house. In comparative terms, Units 5 and 6 will together have a slightly lower power generating capability than the old Units 1 - 4, which had an aggregate rating of about 750 MW.

The new Units 5 and 6 will comprise two quick-start GE 107 FA natural gas combustion turbine generators, two heat recovery steam generators with SCR and CO catalyst, two reheat steam turbine generators, an air-cooled condenser and balance of plant equipment.

The technology being employed will make the new plant among the most efficient large gas-fired generating facilities in New England. It is expected that the proposed facility will operate at an approximate 80 percent capacity factor, essentially as a base load power plant, and the quick-start capabilities will allow for approximately 300 MW of output within ten minutes of startup and full capacity within one hour under hot and warm start conditions.
When will the new plant be ready? What is the sequence of construction?
The new facility will take about 30 months to construct, start to finish. Our plans call for a COD (Commercial Operation Date) of June 1, 2017. Mobilization of Iberdrola, our contractor, will begin in earnest in January 2015, with preparation for the installations of pilings and pedestals (for the largest equipment) and supporting foundations. That work will continue through 2015. Concurrent with the "ground work" is building erection, starting in the third quarter of 2015. The third quarter of 2015 will see the first delivery of major equipment to the site, and those deliveries continue into April 2016. Installation of operating equipment and the various piping and electrical connections will continue through the last quarter of 2016. In that same timeframe, system commissioning and check-out will be underway, leading to the energizing of the switchyard and transformers. Commissioning activities will be in full swing in late 2016, with first steam production scheduled for March 2017, followed by reliability and performance testing to support the COD.
What is going to happen to the dock?
The dock is integral to all the on-site activities over the next several years, through demolition of the old plant and construction of the new plant. Marine transport of materials (scrap leaving the site, new equipment coming onto the site) greatly reduces the amount of truck traffic that would go through the streets of Salem. While the priority is to support those efforts, Footprint has entered into an agreement with the City of Salem that allows for shared use of the dock. With pre-planning and coordination, our goal is to provide Salem with the opportunity to continue to expand the use of the dock to include receiving cruise ships and other visiting passenger vessels of Good Will over the next several years. We began that process on October 19, 2014 when the Seabourn Quest arrived at our dock and stayed for the day. Beyond the completion of construction, the agreement in place between Salem and Footprint leaves open the door for continued use of the wharf by the City of Salem.
What are the plans for the rest of the property? Will someone ever build a hotel or marina there?
Our focus has been on getting the new facility built, but in anticipation of future development, Footprint requested and received a Planned Unit Development Special Permit from the Salem Planning Board. Further, the property has been sub-divided into two lots, with one lot being utilized for the new facility and a second lot available for development for other purposes. The use of a second lot is somewhat limited by the fact that future uses are subject to both Chapter 91 (a MA rule dealing with the use of filled tideland), as well as its designation by the Commonwealth Area, which also limits the intended use of the land.
Isn't the land on the site contaminated?
Through the planning process, Footprint has worked hard to understand and thoroughly investigate the sub-surface conditions. There is extensive history available for the property and its past uses have been thoroughly documented. Knowing what activities have not been in place on site (e.g. tanneries, metals processing, etc.) was as important as knowing what past uses have been for the site (essentially a coal terminal dating back to the 1800s). Once Footprint took ownership of the property, an extensive investigation program was implemented, putting in place hundreds of soil borings, test pits and monitoring wells to get an understanding of site conditions and any required remediation. In working with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Footprint is addressing the findings from the research and has developed a plan for remediating soils in three specific areas on the property under the MCP (Massachusetts Contingency Plan). The extent of soil contamination appears to be limited to these areas and we expect that the remediation work (essentially removal of these soils) will be complete by January 2015.
Will portions of the old plant be re-used?
Virtually all of the old site will be demolished by the second quarter of 2016. All that will remain by then will be the NGrid electrical switchyard and a few of the warehouses and buildings on the north side of the property that will be used as offices and storage during the demolition and construction of the new plant. We are also considering leaving a portion of the turbine hall for eventual re-use.
What is the timeline for the demolition? What progress has been made?
We’ve broken the demolition into two phases. Phase 1 is the critical phase, as it calls for the removal of the parts of the old plant that are "in the way" of the new facility. The skyline of the plant has already changed significantly – eleven large tanks, several ash storage silos and numerous ancillary buildings have been demolished, creating new vistas for the local neighborhood. Our #5 stack (about 430’ tall at the start of the demo) is well on its way to the ground and should be complete by Thanksgiving. Once the last visible vestiges of coal-burning are down (the conveyors used to transport coal from the pile to the boiler building), the site will be ready for new construction.

Phase 2 demolition kicks off in earnest in January 2015. That work includes the main power house and the #3 and #4 stacks (located in the NGrid switchyard). While the stack work will be quite visible, much of the initial work for the powerhouse itself will not be apparent to the outside world. As with all of the demolition activities, the first steps call for the removal of any hazardous materials from the structure being demolished. During the time of construction of the oldest portions of the existing plant (1950 – 1958), the use of asbestos was prevalent in industry. Now banned for used as an insulating material, there is significant work to be done to ensure its safe removal. This "abatement" work for the power block buildings will go on through the summer of 2015, and once completed, demolition of the building itself can begin. Concurrent with the abatement and powerhouse demolition, the two remaining stacks will be be demolished by mid-2015. All of the demolition on site will be complete in the second quarter of 2016.
What will happen to the material from the old plant?
The project is abiding by the principles of "Reduce, Re-use, Recycle". Scrap steel from the tanks and buildings has been and continues to be taken off site (by barge) for recycling. Through the first week of November 2014, 9 scrap barges have left the site, reducing truck traffic through Salem by approximately 675 trucks! We are fortunate that our demolition contractor has made arrangements with a metals processing facility in the Boston area. The materials are collected and recycled at that site for use in mills and foundries around the world.

There are also plans for recycling the old asphalt, brick and concrete that will be removed. We’ve applied to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for a "Beneficial Use Determination" that will allow over 50,000 yards of approved materials to be crushed and re-used on-site, avoiding disposal in landfills. The material would be used to backfill voids left by the removal of structures, as base material for the various roadways to be constructed around the facility, and as the base for the berm that will be built around the new facility. While the operating equipment is old and their re-use opportunities are limited, the raw materials in pumps, motors, turbines etc. have value, and the project includes an effort to see that things like copper windings and special alloy metals are put to good use.


24 Fort Avenue, Salem, MA 01970-5623
1140 Route 22 East, Suite 303, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Beth Debski
Salem City Hall, 93 Washington Street, Salem, MA 01970
978.745.9595 x5641