Letter: Coal power plant will indeed be missed

To the editor:

Once again, emotion rules and the facts are ignored; after all, it is too inconvenient to tell the truth. It is amazing how radical environmentalists can get away with that.

Brayton Point Station can produce about 1,537 Megawatts [MW] of electric power. That can light 1,500,000 homes. Those cooling towers and the remainder of the improvements to clean up plant emissions cost $1 billion. So, now, with the station closing, how are you going to replace all that energy loss? How are you going to provide inexpensive electric power to New Bedford, Fall River, Rhode Island and other South Coast homes, hospitals, schools and industrial plants?

Let’s talk solar: In order to produce 1 MW of power, a solar array must cover about five acres of ground per MW. So, in order to produce 1,537 MW, the solar array has to cover 7,685 acres [5 x 1,537]. Do tell us where the land will be located, please?

How about the Fall River Freetown State Forest? Sorry, the Commonwealth won’t let you do that. Anywhere else nearby? Nope. Also, the sun does not shine at night and sometimes around here, not during the day, either. Snow does not help and we get certainly that precipitate in the bay area.

Let’s talk wind energy. Takes an land area with a minimum of about three acres per wind generator, each of which may produce about 3 MW. Problem is, the wind does not blow 24 hours a day, and, according to Wind Energy America, it takes a minimum wind speed of about  6 meters per second for the windmills to generate electricity and one wind generator can supply up to 350 homes. Which means that, if one Brayton could supply 1,500,000 homes, then it will take up to 4,285 wind turbines to replace Brayton and, at three acres per turbine, 12,857 acres of land to support the array. Right across the bay, of course.

Let’s talk water power, the very simple, most reliable and nearly infinitely renewable resource to produce electric power on the planet. The cheapest and most abundant source of hydro power is from the Province of Quebec, Canada. Although your local electrical utilities have made compacts with Quebec Hydro to provide power into the ISO grid in New England, friends of yours in northern New Hampshire, dear editors, have banded together to stop the proposed new power line from bringing that electricity to power the presses which print your little newspaper. They call it the Northern Pass Project.

Let’s talk natural gas. For those of us who study history and benefit  by that study, it is a little known fact that there is a coal seam which runs under Aquidneck Island, all the way, perhaps, to Plymouth, MA. Fracking anyone? Oh, no, not in MY back yard [Origin of the term NIMBY]. So much for cheap gas.

So, what to do? Wind farms in the bay, or maybe, we had better make that Block Island Sound. After all, we can’t disturb anyone’s views, can we?

Electric bills going up? So what? That’s the price we have to pay for putting 240 people out of work and closing a plant that, at one time, provided more than $16 million in real estate tax revenues to the Town of Somerset. Oh, and what about that? How is the town going to replace those lost revenues? Sell the Brayton Point land to a developer. Guess what? Nearly 95 percent of the entire peninsula on which the power plant is located is within a FEMA flood zone. Sorry, folks, the government can’t help you there.

Government going to help replace the lost money? I don’t know. Ask the City of Fall River if it has yet recovered from the 2,000 semi-skilled and skilled jobs it lost when Quaker Fabric went bankrupt in 2007? By the way, Quaker was one of the region’s largest electricity users.

So, according to the Sakonnet Times editor, we “…will be well rid of [the] coal plant…”. Indeed. Tell it to the folks who lost their jobs and to the Board of Selectmen in Somerset who will have to come up with alternate ways of raising money to support the town. Chapter 9, anyone?

Whatever happened to the real spirit of this area that made it an industrial colossus? Where is the pride that goes into the economic strength which was created in this region because we have the resources and manpower to produce it? Where is it?

Bernard P. Giroux

Fall River

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