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Salem Harbor cements financing for natural gas power plant

The developer of a natural gas-fired power plant at the site of the decommissioned coal plant at Salem Harbor said Friday that it secured financing to finish the project.

Footprint Power LLC, the New Jersey-based company that bought the Salem Harbor coal plant in 2012 and shut it down last year, said it had secured investments from a pair of infrastructural finance companies and gave a final green light to the builder of the new gas-powered generator. Footprint also obtained $730 million in credit commitments from a group of lenders.

“With their investment, the city of Salem, the commonwealth and the environment will see the full benefits and potential of this state-of-the-art facility,” said Peter Furniss, Footprint’s chief executive.


The move is a positive sign for Footprint, whose project has been hampered by litigation since its early days. After agreeing to close the 674-megawatt plant by 2050 as part of a settlement with the Conservation Law Foundation, other lawsuits forced the company to halt its permitting process and seek permission from the operator of the regional electrical grid to delay its commitment to supply power from 2016 to 2017.

Iberdrola Energy Projects, Inc. the main contractor building the powerplant, has already procured materials for the plant’s construction. The company started demolition and remediation work last summer, said John Carroll, a spokesman for Iberdrola, in a December interview, and the on-site workforce is likely to peak at 700 employees in the summer of 2016.

In its statement on the closing of the project’s financing, Footprint said Highstar Capital, LP, a division of Oaktree Capital Management, LP, purchased 87.5 percent of the available equity in the project, and and Toyota Tsusho Corp., a Japanese industrial conglomerate affiliated with the automaker, purchased 12.5 percent. The main lenders were MUFG Union Bank, GE Energy Financial Services, and BNP Paribas.


Jack Newsham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.