Peaker Plants in the Berkshires
There are three peaking power plants in Berkshire County, MA: Woodland Road in Lee, and Doreen and Pittsfield Generating in Pittsfield. These plants are decades old and run on highly polluting fossil fuels, including “natural” gas, fuel oil and kerosene. They endanger health in the local neighborhoods and cost ratepayers tens of millions per year despite only running a fraction of the time.
We believe that clean air is a right. No one should have to live in a community where their health is at risk simply from the air that they breathe. Therefore, we are demanding that the three peaking power plants located in Berkshire County, MA be shut down and replaced with only renewable and clean alternatives.
Collectively, Berkshire County’s peaker plants emitted over 36,000 lbs of nitrogen oxides, a hazardous gas that poses several significant health risks, including asthma, cardiovascular disease and increased mortality rates from COVID. They also contribute significantly to the region’s greenhouse gas emissions. Pittsfield Generating, for example, accounted for over 15% of the city of Pittsfield’s total stationary emissions, despite only running for a few days out of the year.
Pittsfield Generating and Doreen are also very close to Environmental Justice neighborhoods, as can be seen in the map below.
» Meet the Peakers – details on Berkshire County’s Peaking Plants
Alternatives to Peakers
There are cleaner, cheaper alternatives to these plants that don’t pollute our air or cost nearly as much. The first alternative is happening already: demand response, or peak shaving. During times of peak demand, customers, especially those that use a lot of electricity, can save a substantial amount of money by reducing their electricity demand for a few hours.
» Learn more about Demand Response and Peak Shaving
In addition, solar plus storage can be used to produce and store clean electricity for use during these peak times. In Pittsfield, there are already solar fields built on brownfields that could have storage added to them, and right next to the Doreen and Woodland Road, there is acreage where solar plus storage could be built.
All these alternatives replace dirty, air-polluting power plants with clean energy that would cost electric ratepayers less to operate.
Putting Peakers in the Past Coalition
We are building an opposition coalition, including area organizations and neighborhood goups. Pittsfield Generating has an air permit that expires in October of 2021. Our goal is to create opposition to the renewal of that permit before the owners of Pittsfield Generating applies for it.
We believe that once people in the community understand the impacts of these power plants, we can take action together to shut them down! That may take the form of pressing for alternatives like switching them to grid storage and solar or pressuring to shut them down altogether if demand response proves that they’re not needed.
Want to join in? Let’s build this movement together
Sign on to the Coalition Statement!
– Sign the petition — tinyurl.com/PeakerPetition
– Join our list-serv — groups.google.com/g/berkshirepeakers
– Sign up for Shave the Peak app — greenenergyconsumers.org/shavethepeak
(Short link for this page: tinyurl.com/PutPeakersInThePast )