Closed coal plant will be transformed into offshore wind hub

February 17, 2022 GMT

The site of a former coal-fired power plant in Somerset will be transformed into the first offshore wind manufacturing facility in Massachusetts, the governor announced Thursday.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito visited the former Brayton Point power plant to celebrate the plans. The state’s last coal-fired power plant, Brayton Point, closed in 2017 as environmental groups pushed for cleaner sources of energy generation.

An Italian cable manufacturing company, Prysmian Group, finalized an agreement to acquire a 47-acre parcel at the site to make subsea transmission cables that will bring power generated by offshore wind to the electrical grid.

Baker said they are taking what was once an energy generator in a different era and bringing it into the next century.

“I think if we continue to play our cards well, we can make a very big investment in the Commonwealth and in this region going forward, and support a lot of activity in deep water up and down the Atlantic Coast,” he said.

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The investment in Somerset was part of Avangrid Renewables’ successful bid to the state for a future offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, south of Martha’s Vineyard. The Commonwealth Wind project was selected by Massachusetts in December to move forward to contract negotiations to provide 1,200 megawatts of power to the state in 2027. That’s enough to power about 750,000 homes annually.

Brayton Point had burned coal since 1963 as New England’s largest coal plant. It took just a matter of seconds for two 500-foot cooling towers to be brought down in 2019. They were believed to be the tallest such structures ever brought down in a controlled demolition at the time.

Prysmian Group is spending about $200 million on the new manufacturing facility. Avangrid and Prysmian Group said they chose the site because of its waterfront industrial location and acreage.

Also as part of the Commonwealth Wind project, the state’s second offshore wind port will be established in Salem Harbor.

A separate offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, Vineyard Wind, is moving forward as the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm. The nearly $3 billion project is a critical part of the Biden administration’s plan to grow renewable energy in the U.S. It’s a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.