Retired Coal Plant Site to Help Launch East Coast Offshore Wind Industry
by Forbes Contributor Peter Kelly-Detwiler

In January 2018, CDC purchased the retired Brayton Point Power Station from Dynegy, Inc. Now the 1600 MW power plant could play a significant role in helping to facilitate offshore wind development in the northeast United States. Forbes contributor Peter Kelly-Detiler recently visited the site and wrote a fascinating article about the history of Brayton Point and the enormous potential for new growth. Read the full article here »
On May 31 st 2017, after over half a century of operation, the boilers of the 1,600 megawatt (MW) Brayton Point power plant in Somerset Massachusetts went silent. No more coal clattered down the chutes. No more billowing clouds of smoke streamed out of aging stacks. No more steam poured out of the 500-foot twin white cooling towers into the sky. And the flow of electricity into the transmission lines went dead.
Brayton Point was another victim of the economics of the time, battling cheap natural gas generators it could no longer compete with. The high costs of environmental compliance were a factor as well.
So its closure was probably inevitable. But its shuttering also resulted in a gaping hole in the host community of Somerset in Southeastern Massachusetts, with the loss of $4.25 million in local tax revenues and the departure of hundreds of high paying jobs that had been in the community for decades. 

Closure of Coal Plants A Growing Problem
Brayton Point's fate is by no means an anomaly. Aging coal plants are falling by the wayside in historic numbers. In fact, at least 11,400 MWs of coal-fired plants are looking at closure this year. In the past four years, nearly 34,000 MW of capacity has bit the dust. 

In many cases, when power plants close, they simply sit idle. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency does not require any remediation of existing pollution, for example, until the site is re-used for some other venture. So in many cases, unless individual states have laws mandating cleanup, these antiquated behemoths may quietly rust away for decades. As dozens of U.S. coal plants continue to face the same fate, this problem will continue to grow.  
Brayton Point Power Station / Somerset, MA
Brayton Point Has a New Role to Play:
Fortunately, Brayton Point is poised to enjoy a different future. Just six months after its closure, Commercial Development Company (CDC) announced plans to purchase Brayton Point from owner Dynegy and assume all environmental liabilities. At that time, CDC suggested that Brayton Point could be instrumental to the future of the local offshore wind industry, highlighting the site's proximity to the offshore wind lease sites, access to robust transmission facilities, and its potential to become a staging area for the emerging industry.
The Challenges and Risks of Dealing with Brownfield Generation Sites:
ELT's work is a critical piece of the puzzle. Nothing happens if the parties cannot get comfortable with the environmental risks involved in taking over and preparing the site for future use. To that end, ELT offers a program designed specifically for power plants and industrial sites, under which they assume - among other things - the transfer of environmental liabilities, regulatory and other compliance issues, and provide corporate indemnification as well as protection against cost overruns.
ELT assumes environmental risks - both known and unknown - on a client's behalf. This is a critical piece of the puzzle. Companies like Dynegy engage ELT to transfer environmental liabilities from the outset of the transaction. This allows the seller to confidently proceed with the knowledge that environmental issues will not return to haunt them. Once all the liabilities are accounted for, the transfer of unknown risks creates an environment that encourages and makes possible new development activity, like that which is occurring at Brayton Point.

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