The Boston Globe editorial staff weighed in on the misguided proposal for a new peaking diesel plant for downtown Chelsea today with their piece, “To limit Chelsea pollution”. As a downwinder of the Salem Power Plant, it’s oh-so-tempting to allow myself to be seduced by the developers claims that the filthy old Salem Plant will run less, but I’m not convinced and neither is The Globe:
WHEN THE city of Chelsea in 1996 built a new school complex for all the city’s more than 1,300 public elementary school children, it had a right to expect that the already substantial air pollution in the neighborhood would not get worse. But that could happen if state officials approve a new power plant a few hundred feet from the school.
The developer says the plant on Chelsea Creek would burn the cleanest diesel oil and, by reducing the need for dirtier power sources nearby, actually improve Chelsea air quality. It might well do that, but in light of the uncertainties surrounding electricity production in the brave new world of deregulation, state officials should encourage the developer to find a different site.
I would even take it one step further than The Globe. Instead of finding another community in which to drop this thing, how about we discuss WHY we need more and more peaking power and then what we can do to solve that. For the reasons I laid out in “Do you REALLY want to wash that NOW?”, we can do better. Smart metering-type solutions are popping up all over the country and from a pollution and global warming perspective, burning more fossil fuels when we know what we know is a fuel-hardy step in the wrong direction.