Would Exelon’s proposed power plant in Medway be a benefit to the town?
A Medway resident and director of Innovative Power Solutions of Medway
New England faces a shortage of energy in the future. To meet that need, new generating stations will have to be built to replace older, less efficient sources.
And it needs to be done right.
As a Medway resident who works in the energy industry, I’ve looked closely at the proposed expansion of the Medway Energy facility (www.MedwayEnergy.com) and I believe it’s being done right, and it’s right for Medway.
We all need and use electricity. The proposed units can power 200,000 homes. Exelon will install the latest available equipment with the most efficient technology that minimizes carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases.
There will be no visible emissions, and no plume. Emissions levels will be protective of human health and the environment and be below national ambient air quality standards. (On that point, see Section 4.2 of Exelon’s application with the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, which can be found at the Medway Public Library and Town Hall.)
The new units support renewable energy. They can begin producing electricity in 10 minutes on days when demand is high and there is no wind or sun.
The new equipment minimizes water use. In addition, no decision has been made on where the water needed for the plant will be purchased. Different options are being considered.
Oil would be the backup fuel, natural gas the primary. Having oil available means electricity can be generated to meet our demand even when gas is unavailable or overpriced. The oil is the same many of us use to heat our homes. Exelon will also not burn oil May through September, when climate conditions are conducive to producing high ozone levels.
Exelon is a good neighbor. It is Medway’s second-highest taxpayer. The expansion will make the firm the highest at $2 million annually, and it means nearly 200 construction jobs. Exelon also recently made a significant contribution to help locate a leak in Medway’s water supply.
This is a significant company looking to make a significant investment in Medway. As long as it’s done right — and it appears it will be — expanding the Medway Energy facility will be a powerful, positive addition to our town.
A Medway resident
The planned expansion of Exelon West Medway through the addition of a new generating facility would have a negative impact on our community. The state allows Medway to pump 920,000 gallons of water daily from its four wells. Based on data from the Charles River Watershed Association, Medway has exceeded this number for the past two years, using 1.07 million gallons per day in 2013, and 1.12 million gallons per day in 2014. The new facility could use up to 190,000 gallons of water per day — or 21 percent of the total daily usage allowed for the town.
Even if Exelon opts to tap water from a surrounding town, it would add to the burden on the Charles River, which feeds from the entire area. Medway has several proposed or approved development projects in the works: an assisted living facility, a shopping area, and a 192-unit housing development on Winthrop Street that could add 225 to 300 additional students to the Medway school system. Even without Exelon, all of these projects will add usage to an already stressed water supply.
The proposal is for a dual-fuel facility that would use natural gas and ultra-low sulfur distillate fuel oil. A million-gallon oil storage facility would be built on the premises. In a June 11 meeting of the state Energy Facilities Siting Board, Exelon stated that when the oil is used there will be the potential of three trucks an hour arriving at the facility to restock the supply. This means added traffic on Summer Street.
The emissions generated by these fuels will contain particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, lead, and other hazardous air pollutants. To me that is not in keeping with the green community that the town wants to be.
Economic development is important to Medway. But the project would only generate four to six permanent new jobs. The environmental impact will be far greater than any economic benefit.
There are cleaner ways to generate electricity and those options should be our first choice. I strongly urge the residents of Medway to say “no” to this expansion.
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at email@example.com.