Protesters unite against proposed $800M Somerset power plant

SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — Months after the coal-fired Brayton Point power plant shut down, local groups are protesting a potential new power plant in Somerset.

An $800 million proposal was heard Wednesday night by the Somerset Economic Development Committee. Representatives of the Texas-based oil company, GSXI, are hoping the plant could be used as an example of an integrated energy project based on biomass pellets and natural gas.

Still, some environmental groups hope Somerset will go in a cleaner direction.

“They want to build a biomass plant,” Connie Brodeur of Coalition for Clean Air South Coast said. “Bio sounds very green, but it’s not.”

“We’d like to see Somerset go into a different direction, away from burning things,” she added.

The power plant would be located on the site of the former Montaup Electric Plant on Riverside Avenue.

People from both sides of the aisle spoke up at the meeting. Opponents expressed concerns about its potential impacts on health and the environment, but Nalina Pillai of GSXI said residents have nothing to worry about.

“We are bringing technologies, leading technologies, 100% EPA compatible or better,” Pillai explained.

Attendees were reminded during the meeting that the company can’t legally build anything that doesn’t meet regulations. The next steps are up to GSXI and the land owner.

“They’re private properties by zoning, by law,” Somerset Economic Development Committee deputy chair Loyd Mendes said. “If you buy property in the industrial zone, you have the right to operate a power plant.”