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Brayton Point/Somerset LNG, Massachusetts

STATUS:  Killed

TYPE: Natural Gas

OPPOSITION:  Environmental groups; local residents; Rhode Island Legislators including, Rep. Fausto C. Anguilla (D-Dist. 68) of Bristol and Warren, Rep. Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67) of Warren and Barrington, Rep. William Enos (D-Dist. 71) of Little Compton, Portsmouth and Tiverton; Rep. Joseph N. Amaral (R-Dist. 70) of Portsmouth and Tiverton, and Rep. Henry C. Rose (D-Dist. 63) of East Providence and Pawtucket


BACKGROUND:  In 2003, Somerset LNG announced plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility on 15 acres of land at the Brayton Point, MA, Power Station.  The Brayton Point Power Station is a 1,500-megawatt coal-fired power plant that has been operating since 1951.  The Somerset LNG facility would be built alongside the existing power plant, and would rely on hot water from the power plant to warm the LNG as it converts from supercooled liquid to gaseous form.  Environmental groups had criticized the power plant’s wastewater discharge for its impact on marine life, and Somerset LNG’s proposal would at least partially address the issue by reducing the power plant’s hot-water discharge into Mount Hope Bay.  Somerset LNG was projected to cost $300 million to construct, and would transmit as much as 700 million cubic feet of gas per day.

Environmental groups and local residents opposed the Somerset LNG project, claiming environmental harm and increased vulnerability to terrorist attacks.  State Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. of Bristol and Portsmouth introduced legislation to prohibit the transport of liquefied natural gas “by way of tanker or any other means on the Sakonnet River or under the Mount Hope Bridge.”  The legislation was cosponsored by other legislators from Rhode Island’s East Bay.  Rep. Gallison stated:  “I am not sure that the communities in Bristol County or on Aquidneck Island are prepared for that kind of situation, either in terms of potential security dangers or environmental disasters . . . [w]e plan to be active in our opposition to this plan and the first step, through this legislation, is to prohibit the shipment of LNG along the Sakonnet or under the Mount Hope Bridge.”

PG&E National Energy Group, Brayton Point Power Station’s parent company, voluntarily filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on April 6, 2001.  In March 2004, Somerset LNG announced that the project would not go forward until PG&E National Energy Group emerges from bankruptcy.  Although the company has emerged from bankruptcy, the power plant has been sold to the electric utility Dominion, and Somerset LNG appears to have been abandoned.

SOURCES:  Providence Journal: http://www.projo.com/massachusetts/content/projo_20040309_so9lng.eaa7e.htm; http://www.projo.com/news/content/projo_20040104_lng4.225610.html;
Rhode Island General Assembly: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/News/pr1.asp?prid=949;
Coalition for Responsible Siting of LNG Facilities: http://www.nolng.org/;
Green Futures: http://www.greenfutures.org/projects/LNG/LNG1-4-04.html

Last Updated:  November 23, 2010