The new Salem Harbor Station is a 674-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired, quick-start, combined-cycle electric generating facility on a 23–acre portion of the original 65-acre Salem Harbor Generating Station, a coal-fired generating plant site. It will produce and provide efficient, reliable, low-emission electrical power to New England, and will support the introduction of new renewable resources to the energy grid.

Pathway to Cleaner Energy

Coal-fired power plants around the country are under pressure due to environmental regulations and cheaper fuel sources. The original Salem Harbor Generating Station in Salem, MA – a coal- and oil-fired power plant built in the 1950s and 1970s – faced these pressures when Footprint Power purchased it in 2012.

Even before the sale, Footprint Power – with the engagement of the community, public officials, regulators and many other industry specialists – began the process of designing and permitting a new natural gas-fired facility. Now, the site of the original plant is being remediated and revitalized, the old plant is being demolished, and the new facility is rising in its stead – the new Salem Harbor Station.

The new facility will take approximately 30 months to construct and is scheduled to begin operation in June 2017.

The future of energy includes wind, solar and other no-carbon generating solutions. These energy sources must be supported by a sophisticated network of flexible generating resources that can be readily dispatched – including natural gas-fueled electric-generating facilities that run when the no-carbon sources cannot meet the demand. The new Salem Harbor Station is poised to meet this future like few others. The new quick-start combined-cycle gas turbine being installed on the site will provide efficient, low-emission power to New England while the renewable generating fleet is still relatively small. As that fleet grows, the facility will be used to fill demand when wind or solar resources are insufficient.

Did you know?

The new Salem Harbor Station will require over 2,249 tons of structural steel – that is 18 times the amount of steel supporting the Statue of Liberty.

Power Station for the Future

The new Salem Harbor Station is designed to achieve state-of-the-art levels of efficiency, converting more than 58% of the energy in gas to electrical power, the highest level of efficiency of any unit currently operating in New England.

It is also designed to operate with unprecedented flexibility, including the ability to bring half of its output online within 10 minutes. The next most flexible combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) in the area takes 6 hours to do so. Finally, the new Salem Harbor Station incorporates the latest advances in emissions controls and noise reduction.

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Design of the new Salem Harbor Station

The new facility comprises two state-of-the-art units that will replace four obsolete coal- and oil-fired generating units. Each of these new units consists of a quick-start GE 107 FA natural gas combustion turbine generator, heat recovery steam generator with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and carbon monoxide (CO) catalyst and reheat steam turbine generator.

The units will share a single air-cooled condenser and other plant equipment. With this new technology, the new Salem Harbor Station will be among the most efficient thermal generating facilities in New England.


The quick-start combined-cycle gas turbine will give the facility the ability to provide 674 MW of power to the grid, with nearly half of that output available in 10 minutes and the remainder over the course of an hour. In the near term, it will be one of the most efficient units providing power to the grid. Over time, it may be operated when intermittent resources like wind and solar are unable to keep up with demand or when stored energy resources are exhausted.


Did you know?

The environmental benefits of the new Salem Harbor Station are not limited to reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2). Additionally, for the entire New England power generation sector, analysts estimate that the new Salem Harbor Station will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) by 10%, sulfur dioxide (SO2) by 8%, and mercury (Hg) by 6%. This means we can all breathe more easily.

Environmental Commitment

The state-of-the-art generating facility will reduce gas usage in New England, reduce costs of wholesale energy, dramatically reduce system-wide emissions including greenhouse gases, and pave the way for greater reliance on renewable resources in the future. Better yet, it achieves all of this while occupying only a third of the site, leaving the remaining land for other constructive purposes, including public access to the waterfront. Moreover, the facility features many innovations that reduce noise and have a positive visual impact on the community.

With all of these features, the new Salem Harbor Station will accomplish some impressive results:

  • The new Salem Harbor Station will decrease gas usage in New England. It does this by allowing the independent system operator – called ISO New England, Inc. (ISO-NE) – to turn off less efficient units that would use more gas to produce the same level of energy.
  • The new Salem Harbor Station will also produce a profound reduction in criteria emissions across New England by displacing more polluting units, with projections of 10% reductions in sulfur oxides (SOx), 8% reductions in nitrogen oxides (NOx), and 6% reductions in mercury (Hg), in each case across the entire New England system.
  • Because natural gas when combusted produces about half of the CO2 equivalent emissions of coal or oil, adding in the increased efficiency of the new Salem Power Station means the project is able to reduce system-wide emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) by approximately 450,000 tons each year over the next 10 years, or the equivalent of taking more than 90,000 cars off the road each year in New England.

Did you know?

Each barge of demolition material leaving the site saves over 75 truck trips through the streets of Salem. To date, Footprint Power has avoided over 1,000 truck trips by taking demolition material off-site by barge, and thousands more by bringing in clean soil, equipment, parts and structural steel for the new Salem Harbor Station by water.

What’s Next?

The first stage of the redevelopment of the new Salem Harbor Station is a complicated, multi-year effort that consists of the safe shutdown, decommissioning and demolition of the facilities associated with Units 1-4 of the old Salem Harbor Station, the remediation of the site, and the construction of Units 5-6 of the new Salem Harbor Station. This stage has been years in the planning and represents a team effort by Footprint Power, the City of Salem, regulatory agencies with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Footprint Power’s investors and many consultants. The plant is scheduled to commence operations in June 2017.


Copyright 2016 Footprint Power
Salem Harbor Development Team

Demolition of the Old Salem Harbor Station

Demolition of the old power station was conducted in two main phases. The first phase was intended to clear the site sufficiently to allow construction of the new power plant; it began in July 2014 and ran through December 2014.


When it purchased the Salem Harbor Generating Station in August 2012, Footprint Power immediately commenced a thorough environmental characterization of the site with over 320 borings and test pits and 34 groundwater samples.

Construction of the New Salem Harbor Station

Footprint Power started outreach in Salem with the community, political leadership, and environmental groups on the plans for the new power plant in April 2010, more than two years before Footprint Power purchased the old plant. Once it was clear that the plans for the new plant would work for the community stakeholders, Footprint Power began the process of negotiating the acquisition and securing the appropriate permits.