A NEW VISION FOR SALEM HARBOR
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.
HISTORY OF THE STATION
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.