On Tuesday evening, residents in Westfield heard from the Energies Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) about the Board’s process for siting the plant being considered for their community. They also heard from town officials who, in alarmingly similar statements to officials in other communities, think it is “no big deal”. They heard from residents who are aware of the health impacts of particulate matter and reduced air quality. They heard from environmentalists who are concerned over danger to the second largest aquifer in the state, and the depletion of yet more surface water in the name of power and profits. And they heard from the developer who painted a picture of peaceful co-existence and paving the streets with gold.
Carrots are held out to local politicians in the form of PILOT agreements, the lure of jobs, and the ruse that there will be no impact beyond the property line. But what is omitted is the fact that agreements are reneged upon, and payments reduce as the plant depreciates. Owners change from one limited liability corporation to the next. Construction jobs can’t be guaranteed to any one group and in fact can go out of state to open shops where laborers skilled in building plants can be found. And there will be increased truck traffic and other impacts to the quality of life, and respiratory health of residents in the host community and beyond will be affected. Oh, and electricity rates will not go down, nor will the power stay in Westfield. The power is sold in a market that matches supply to demand to find the “market price” and then is distributed via the grid to where the power is needed- throughout New England.
An opportunity to express your concerns about the proposed Westfield plant is available. Public comments will be accepted until August 12 and should be sent to Ms. Selma Urman, EFSB, One South Station, Boston, MA 02110. Ms. Urman is the hearing officer who gathers public comments and ensures they are considered in the EFSB’s siting process.