With demolition underway, Brayton Point rebranded for wind energy industry

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PROVIDENCE – Once the largest coal-fired power plant in New England, the retired Brayton Point Power Station is being remodeled into a logistics port, manufacturing hub, and support center for the emerging offshore wind energy industry.

St. Louis, Mo.-based Commercial Development Company Inc., the plant’s owner, began demolition at the site in Somerset, Mass. last month and more recently announced plans to rebrand the facility as the Brayton Point Commerce Center.

The construction of the cooling towers began in 2009, following a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over the plant’s intake of water and discharge of heat into the Mount Hope Bay. The towers began operation just a few years later.

“We believe the outstanding logistical attributes of Brayton Point combined with public support for energy diversification has created a historic opportunity to help advance the offshore wind energy sector with this development,” said Stephen Collins, the company’s executive vice president. “The acreage available will also give the Brayton Point Commerce Center the capacity to accommodate other industries as well.”
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Demolition work at the site is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. With experience redeveloping retired power plants, Commercial Development Company bought the 307-acre Brayton Point waterfront site in deal finalized in January. The previous owner, Dynergy Inc., shutdown the plant last year after decades of operation under different owners.

The project comes at an opportune time as the world’s largest offshore wind energy developer, Orsted, formerly the Danish Oil and Natural Gas Co., last month announced its $510 million acquisition of Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind. Deepwater holds the distinction of being the developer of the first and, so far, the only offshore wind turbine operation in the Americas, with the Block Island Wind Farm.

Acquiring Deepwater gives Orsted a better foothold in the U.S. market. In addition to Block Island, Deepwater holds two of four federal offshore wind leases off the southern coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and half of another off Maryland. Deepwater won bids earlier this year to supply Rhode Island with 400 megawatts of electricity and Connecticut with 200 megawatts of electricity. It also has proposed a 90-megawatt wind farm east of Long Island.

For 50 years, the Brayton Point coal-powered plant generated up to 1,600 megawatts of electricity. The new owners plan to make the site productive again, emphasizing the waterfront property’s deep-water port capable of berthing large trans-Atlantic vessels, access to a strong local talent pool, and its location near designated offshore wind energy sites.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com

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