It is morally unacceptable to burn coal in New England.
Our elected officials are bought by the fossil fuel industry and lack the political will to stop the climate crisis. The people must rise up to enact the change necessary to avert cataclysm.
The world is facing a climate emergency. We have 10 years to stop burning carbon to avoid catastrophic climate change. As the largest historical emitter, the United States has a moral and legal responsibility to cut emissions sooner than the rest of the world. In 2019, it is morally unacceptable to burn coal.
While each of us goes to great effort to reduce our personal carbon emissions, the reality is that just 100 companies are responsible for 70% of emissions worldwide. We simply can’t keep letting massive corporations destroy our climate. We cannot solve the climate crisis through individual change or through market based solutions alone. When the Merrimack plant is operating at full capacity, shutting it down for just one hour offsets as much carbon emissions as 26 years of the total carbon emissions for an average American.
Currently, the Merrimack station operates during peak electrical demand when burning coal is economically viable. This is still unacceptable in the 21st century.
We don’t need coal in New England. Thanks to the steadily decreasing regional energy demand since 2005 and the ample new cleaner energy sources joining the grid, there is energy capacity surplus in the region to handle the forecast maximum load of even the extreme heat wave scenario without using coal.
The Merrimack generating station costs electrical customers and the town of Bow millions of dollars. The recent installation of scrubbers cost ratepayers $500 million and did nothing to eliminate climate emissions. Eversource (the owner after PSNH - Public Service of New Hampshire) sued the Town of Bow over the generator’s tax valuation, and the state supreme court ordered the taxpayers of Bow to reimburse Eversource $10 million.
After being forced to sell in 2018, the Merrimack station is now owned by a joint venture company called “Granite Shore Power, LLC” which is in turn owned by two investment firms based in Connecticut: Atlas Holdings and Castleton Commodities International. Granite Shore Power continues to operate Merrimack station because of millions of dollars of subsidies (called “forward capacity payments” from electricity rate payers across New England. Over 188 million dollars are earmarked for subsidies to Bow between 2018 and 2023.
Burning “natural” (fracked methane) gas causes climate change. Methane, the primary component of “natural” gas causes climate change at 80 times the rate of carbon dioxide. We have the renewable energy solutions that we need today.
A University of New Hampshire study showed that no new gas infrastructure is needed to meet our energy demands.
Yet, New Hampshire is under attack from fracked methane gas expansion proposals including the proposed Granite Bridge, a 27 mile pipeline and 2 billion cubic ft storage tank. The holding companies that now own the Bow plant have a history of converting coal plants to gas. Running New Hampshire on fracked methane gas is suicide. We will shut down Bow and ensure that no new gas infrastructure is built in New Hampshire.
A Just trANSITION
When we shut this plant down, and prevent it from being converted to gas, there must be a future both for the workers and the site on the banks of the Merrimack River. A transition must:
Reutilize facilities to replace losses in the tax base.
Create jobs restoring the site and fund job-creating community economic development.
Ensure a just transition for workers.
Imagine what repurposing the $148million in subsidies already earmarked for Bow over the next 4 years could do! That could buy over 371 megawatt hours of battery storage (and that’s with old 2016 prices) to shave off peak demand. Combined with cleaning up the site and installing solar panels rather than coal piles, Bow could be a clean energy hub!