This is a two page document, obtained by WSAR, composed by Brayton Point LLC and addressed to ''Somerset Taxpayers''
A new federal administration is moving swiftly to unlock the vast potential of offshore wind energy. Massachusetts is also passing signature climate legislation that includes solicitation of new bids for promising wind projects.
Meanwhile, local tax revenue from the coal plant and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) of nearly $3,500,000 per year have phased out with severe impacts to Somerset’s coffers that will challenge the Town’s ability to provide vital municipal services.
How do Somerset’s leaders, facing hard choices about raising taxes, laying off employees, and cutting vital services respond to a comprehensive plan to redevelop the former Brayton Point Power Plant? On January 29, the Somerset Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) rejected those redevelopment plans after eight months of consideration.
Brayton Point is part of the “Mount Hope Bay Designated Port Area,” created by a state law designed to preserve and encourage development of water-dependent industrial uses. For nearly 60 years the power plant provided great jobs and taxes to Somerset, ending when the power plant closed in 2017.
Brayton Point LLC bought the plant in January 2018 and soon began the demolition process necessary to prepare the 306 acre site for redevelopment. Redevelopment work began with demolition of 1.8 million square feet of buildings including removal of three massive oil tanks, four smoke stacks up to 500’ tall, and two 500’ cooling towers, perhaps the biggest eyesores on the South Coast. Neighbors can once again enjoy sunrise and sunset!
Major demolition is complete leaving only foundation removal required to re-grade the site. It is important to note that 99.5% of all construction debris was recycled. Now that these disruptive times are nearly behind us, we had hoped the community would support and reap the rewards from productive reuse of the site.
But the ZBA decision leaves Brayton Point Commerce Center (BPCC) handcuffed to its current two tenants, generating far fewer jobs and just $50,000 per month in tax revenue -- compared to more than $ $6,000,000 per year in local taxes when the power plant was operating.
Further, most of the 306-acre property remains vacant. But rather than welcome the Brayton Point Redevelopment Plan, ZBA members ridiculed it for being too detailed before deep-sixing it.
BPCC’s virtues are undeniable. It’s among the largest deep water ports on the eastern seaboard with easy access to interstate highways and outstanding development potential. Furthermore, its location near offshore wind farms south of Cape Cod offer redevelopment investment potential of up to one billion dollars! BPCC has the potential to generate in excess of $6,000,000 per year in taxes to support local services.
Tragically, that development potential including jobs and tax revenue remain out of reach because BPCC cannot entertain high-value tenants without local approval.
The January ZBA denial not only limits BPCC’s ability to market to new tenants, but local opposition may discourage future tenants from investing in the site.
In excess of $25 million dollars has already been spent to purchase, remediate, demolish, and grade Brayton Point for redevelopment -- without use of public funds.
Transforming the southern 45 acres into a laydown yard for the components used by the wind industry is itself proof that wind industry tenants are a primary focus for BPCC. We also saved the turbine building with two 100-ton cranes for re-use by wind component manufacturers.
BPCC has and continues to work rigorously with local, state, and federal agencies to address the reasonable concerns raised by those agencies regarding the existing tenants and redevelopment activities and plans. BPCC aims to bring needed tax revenues and jobs from the renewable energy and other industries. Yet ZBA members seem unable to envision BPCC’s long-term potential.
The ZBA denial of the planned development application forces BPCC to appeal to the Massachusetts Land Court to overturn it. Regrettably, this legal appeal is the only path left available to realize Brayton Point’s full potential.
The time and expense the town will incur defending the ZBA’s decision is unfortunate. BPCC would much rather focus its energy and funds on turning Brayton Point into a strong job-creating, revenue-producing asset for the community.
BPCC is optimistic the Town and its residents will ultimately recognize the great promise of renewable energy and the important role BPCC can play in this transformative industry.
BPCC is ready, willing, and able to work cooperatively with the Town to shepherd in a new era of economic prosperity for Somerset and the South Coast region.