Letter: Peabody citizens must be heard on power plant

Submitted by administrator on Fri, 06/11/2021 - 19:44

This letter was published by the Salem News on May 17, 2021

To the editor:

Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) has made a mockery of open meeting law and their claims of transparency. On May 12, at a little after 11 a.m., I was one of many interested people who joined the online open public MMWEC meeting to learn about their plans to review the proposed gas-fired Peabody peaker plant. They immediately went into executive session, citing their right to do so in order to protect their business from competition.

Really? Was this a violation of Open Meeting law? MMWEC represents municipal power plants, which I believe are the sole suppliers of electricity in their communities — they are monopolies and have no competition.

Maybe their monopoly is a problem to be addressed. I hope they will adapt, but if not, then perhaps we need a new breed of power company that adopts the best technologies now available to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

The proposed gas-fired “peaker” plant proposed for Peabody is a bad choice — bad for public health, bad for the environment, bad for the climate, and likely a risky and costly investment.

Residents of Peabody as well as other municipal light plant communities do enjoy safe, inexpensive, reliable power. My pride in Peabody embraces renewable clean energy for the future.

There must be an independent evaluation to select the best solution for reliable power, a solution that will not harm the health of the public by pollution, or the environment by the severe impact of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is part of natural gas. Instead, we could design a comprehensive program of energy efficiency, distributed solar generation, battery storage that could serve the need for reliable peak energy at lower cost than natural gas.

There are citizens coming together in Peabody who share concerns about the proposed plant.

I hope that the leaders of the Peabody Municipal Light Plant (PMLP) and MMWEC will consider what citizens have to say, and not reject it out of hand by implying that we are selling false claims promoted by “outsiders.” We are not engineers, but we do rely on experts in public health and power storage to be accurate, and we are open to discussion.

I insist that there shall be an independent comprehensive review of all potential solutions, including a completely transparent process to engage the community.

We are all, everyone in the commonwealth, and everyone on the planet, in a race to assure a viable world for our grandchildren. We need to work together.

Jerry Halberstadt