To the Editor:
“It would cost $85 million to build, spew thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants into the atmosphere for years to come, and perpetuate the reliance on fossil fuels in a dozen communities across Massachusetts all while a new state law takes effect requiring drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.” This quote begins a Nov. 23 article in The Boston Globe describing the new so-called peaker plant proposed to be built in Peabody and partially supported by the Hull Light Board.
In spite of this dire description, and residents speaking in opposition at a recent meeting, the Hull Light Board remains steadfast in its commitment to this plant slated to be built in an environmental justice area.
The Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs stated that “[r]educing emissions to achieve net zero by 2050 is the Commonwealth’s primary and most important line of defense in preventing the significant threats presented by a changing climate.”
Here we sit in Hull, perhaps the most vulnerable coastal community in the entire commonwealth, and yet our Light Board chooses to go against the common good and contribute to the threat of climate change. With cost as its main justification, the Light Board ignores the tremendous cost to our community of rising sea levels and stronger storms that outweigh any additional costs to consumers for alternative sources of peak power.
As ratepayers, all Hull residents should be concerned about how our money will be used to support this boondoggle. The HLB must act responsibly and withdraw its investment in this project. The board’s members are elected to represent the people of Hull, to help protect this community and not take any action that will only serve to endanger us and put our town at further risk of the ravages of climate change and rising sea levels.
While the board ignores the benefits of electric batteries as a backup system, other states are successfully using batteries for peak power demand. The cost of batteries has come down by almost 70 percent in the years since the HLB signed the contract for its share of the peaker plant’s power. It is time to get real about climate change. The cost of continuing the old ways of doing business will only result in much higher costs and irreparable damage to our fragile community and its residents.
The HLB signed this contract in 2015. When it comes to the impacts of climate change, that might as well have been last century. In the short time since then, we have seen the true impacts of climate change, stronger and more frequent storms, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, hotter summers, and unprecedented wildfires. When the HLB signed this contract, for a resource that did not yet exist, it did so without including an escape clause. Now the board claims it cannot cancel the contract because there is no such escape clause. The fact that the HLB and the town made a mistake six years ago signing this contract, with no way to cancel if conditions changed, is not a reason to continue down this road. Own up to your mistake and take the necessary steps to move into a future for our children and grandchildren that is free of environmental catastrophes.
We all must do what we can to ensure that future, and stepping away from this peaker plant is a good first step. Other steps could include replacing Hull Wind I and capping the dump to convert it into a solar farm. These investments will be leaps forward toward a clean energy future.