Low-emissions coal, credits from state will help power plant meet regulations

Lisa Guerriero

The owners of Salem Harbor Station say they’re here to stay and have a plan to live up to state regulations – although environmental activists have their doubts.

“We are confident Salem Harbor can and will continue to serve you with reliable electricity for years to come,” reads a notice the Virginia-based owners, Dominion, placed in the July 25 Salem Gazette.

Jim Norvelle, a spokesman for Dominion, said given larger economic factors, it’s difficult for the company to predict the future, but he pointed to regulatory-compliance plans being made as evidence of the company’s intention to remain in Salem.

“We’re certainly looking at 2012,” he said. “That’s four-plus years.”

When Dominion took over the plant in 2005, it made an agreement with the state that it would present a plan for meeting Massachusetts environmental standards by this month. Dominion is currently in compliance with the regulations, but needed to present a plan showing how it will meet the more stringent standards that take effect in 2011, including the carbon-dioxide-limiting Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

On Thursday afternoon, Dominion leaders and employee union officials had a closed-door meeting at the Wilmington offices of the state Department of Environmental Protection, with Mayor Kim Driscoll and members of several environmental groups also present.

The news that Dominion will rely heavily on existing practices and a cap-and-trade program to achieve compliance came as no surprise to Pat Gozemba, a Salem resident who attended the meeting as a member of the environmental-group contingent.

“Dominion is meeting the regulations sort of on the cheap. They put a Band-Aid on the problem, metaphorically,” said Gozemba.