Climate Action Groups Looking to Build Opposition to Canal Plant Expansion

The current plant in Sandwich.

BREWSTER – Local climate action groups will host an activist training event Thursday evening in Brewster to build opposition to the planned expansion of the Canal Generating Plant in Sandwich.

The Massachusetts Sierra Club’s Cape Cod Group and 350 Mass Cape Cod will provide details about NRG Energy’s plant and its Canal-3 project, which would construct a 350-megawatt natural gas-fueled turbine.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Brewster Ladies’ Library.

“The planned Unit 3 at Canal will rely on fracked gas and it could release up to 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year and it would operate for decades,” said Chris Powicki, an energy consultant and local activist with the Cape Cod chapters of the Massachusetts Sierra Club and 350 Mass.

“A new plant like this seems counter to our state law which will require massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades.”

The Canal-3 energy generating turbine has received approval and almost all of its permitting but the start of construction has been delayed due to a legal challenge from the non-profit Conservation Law Foundation.

Featured speakers at the event include Emily Norton, the executive director of Massachusetts Sierra Club, and Powicki.

They will highlight the carbon footprint created from the new turbine and the two older oil-burning turbines.

“Even if that project, Canal-3, goes forward, Canal-1 and -2 are still operating and those are units that were once part of the “Filthy Five” – the worst, most polluting power plants in Massachusetts,” Powicki said.

“And they are the only two boilers left from the original “Filthy Five.”

Powicki said there is no reason why those plants continue to operate today.

The event will also introduce attendees to offshore wind and other renewable energy projects aimed to supply clean energy to Massachusetts.

“What we are going to do is give them insights on how they might ask questions of or advocate to officials in Sandwich, officials with the Cape Cod Commission, the Assembly of Delegates and across the board to look at ways to make sure that when projects like this are proposed they get a real rigorous review,” Powicki said.

“And any mitigation payments are geared toward benefiting, not just one town, but an entire region.”

The Town of Sandwich reached an agreement with the plant for a payment in lieu of taxes of about $57.5 million over the next few decades.

“None of that money is designated to go to supporting energy efficiency or renewable energy and all of that money would stay in Sandwich,” Powicki said.

“And this is really a regional plant and the harm is regional in terms of air quality and global in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Powicki said it is 2018 and not 1918 or 1968.

“We need to move forward and focus on clean energy and renewable energy in projects like the offshore wind projects proposed southeast of Martha’s Vineyard,” he said.

NRG Energy, the owner of the Canal Generating Plant in Sandwich, recently installed a 1.5-megawatt solar farm.

The event will begin with a showing of a short street theater performance, “No Fracked Sandwich.” The drama which includes reasons for opposing the Canal Plant, was first performed on December 3 near the proposed site for the new gas-fueled turbine.


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