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November 3, 2013

Power plant's new owners sign deal with GE

SALEM — The new owner of the former Salem Harbor Station power plant has signed a $200 million contract with GE to supply the power generation equipment for its planned 674-megawatt natural gas power plant on the waterfront.

The Footprint Power facility will “dramatically reduce” emissions, occupy only one-third of the 65-acre site and utilize a “rapid response” technology that will enable the plant to add 300 megawatts of power to the regional electricity grid within minutes, according to GE.

The quick-start technology makes the plant an ideal backup for renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, officials said.

“We selected GE’s technology because it provided the best combination of performance and world-class flexibility and efficiency,” Footprint President Scott Silverstein said in a prepared statement.

“GE is working closely with Footprint Power, Salem officials and Massachusetts regulators to turn this 62-year-old facility into a much smaller, much quieter and much cleaner 21st-century plant,” Victor Abate, president and CEO of Power Generation Products, GE Power & Water, said in a statement.

The current coal- and oil-fired Salem Harbor Station plant, which is scheduled to shut down at the end of May, also uses GE equipment.

The old plant’s emissions, however, have, in the past, come under environmental fire from a number of groups — including from activists in the town of Manchester, where residents can see the plant across the water and have expressed concern about the facility’s impact on air quality.

The new GE gas turbines, generators and other equipment will arrive by barge in late 2014 or early 2015, according to Footprint.

The natural gas plant is scheduled to open in June 2016.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@gloucestertimes.com.

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