Interesting use for old coal fired power station site in MA

SOMERSET — A planned facility that would convert and store electricity generated by offshore wind turbines was unveiled Monday at Brayton Point.

“I think this will be the single largest energy source in Southern New England, so the contributions to New England as a whole are very considerable,” said Edward Krapels, CEO of Anbaric, which is developing the new Somerset-based facility.

Construction on the Anbaric Renewable Energy Center is expected to begin in 2021 and will result in a 1,200-megawatt, high-voltage direct current converter. The facility will serve as the “plug-in” between offshore wind turbines and the power grid from which local homes and buildings receive electricity. Anbaric is also planning to build 400 megawatts worth of battery storage on the site, which would be utilized on days when winds are low and turbine output is less productive.

Between the 1,200 watts being converted onsite and the energy being stored, Krapels said the facility’s output would be “comparable” to the peak of 1,600 megawatts that had been generated by the coal-fired Brayton Point Power Station that operated on the property from 1957 until 2017. Demolition of the former plant is ongoing, with the two 500-foot cooling towers that had served the plant in its last years being demolished last month. The two largest remaining structures on the property are scheduled to be demolished later this year.

In total, Anbaric estimates the project will reflect a roughly $645 million investment.

Krapels said that about five to 10 people will be employed full-time at the site of the Anbaric Renewable Energy Center, though he pointed out that its construction will likely have a ripple effect through the energy industry that could create thousands of more jobs with other employers throughout the state.

“With our 1,200-megawatt gateway, if you will, a lot of other companies can come in and create a lot of other jobs,” he said, adding that the project’s two-year construction will likely create as many as 400 temporary jobs.

The significance of replacing a coal-powered plant with a “zero-emission” alternative energy source was not lost on the elected officials present Monday.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy described the transition as “extraordinary” and quipped that he was glad to see the old plant’s cooling towers no longer looming over the skyline.

“For someone who flies almost this exact path down to D.C. and back every week, I always knew I was getting closer to home when I saw those cooling towers. I will be one of those folks who will not miss them,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy also praised the efforts of state Rep. Patricia Haddad in working to find a new use for the land at Brayton Point.