Metro

Mass. says goodbye to coal power generation

The last coal-burning plant in Massachusetts, Brayton Point generated nearly 1,500 megawatts, enough to power nearly 1.5 million homes.
Matt O'Brien/Associated Press
The last coal-burning plant in Massachusetts, Brayton Point generated nearly 1,500 megawatts, enough to power nearly 1.5 million homes.

Once it was a giant with fire in its bowels, looming on the horizon. Now the flames in the Brayton Point power plant in Somerset have flickered out. The plant, which had generated power by burning coal for decades but had drawn criticism as a major polluter, has shut down.

The last coal-burning plant in Massachusetts, it generated nearly 1,500 megawatts, enough to power nearly 1.5 million homes. It was slated to shut down by midnight Wednesday, and it has stopped generating power, a spokesman for the company that owns the plant said Thursday morning.

The plant burned coal to turn water into steam that drove electricity-generating turbines. It had operated for more than five decades, said David Onufer, external communications and media relations manager for plant owner Dynegy of Houston.

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Onufer said the plant shut down because of low energy prices and the high cost of maintaining the aging facility.

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He said a previous plant owner had decided to shut the plant down, and Dynegy, which purchased the plant in 2015 as part of a larger deal, was bound by that agreement.

“We’ve known that this day was coming,” he said. “We’re going to safely and permanently discontinue operation.”

There were 170 workers at the plant. “We’re committed to helping everyone with the transition,” Onufer said.

Despite President Trump’s plan to revive the coal industry, other major coal-burning plants have also been closing. Low natural gas prices and tougher pollution regulations are being blamed for the end of coal generation in Massachusetts.