Salem is steeped in a history of industry coexisting with commerce and residential uses. Footprint Power welcomes this opportunity to help the city write a new and exciting chapter for itself and its residents as the new Salem Harbor Station emerges to provide cleaner energy to the Northeast.

Legacy of Trade & Industry

The site of Salem Harbor Station is bordered on one side by the harbor itself and on the other by the historic thoroughfares of Derby Street and Fort Avenue. This location is not merely a point on a map, but it is steeped in history. Salem was among the first of the settlements of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. With its well-sheltered harbor, it quickly became one of the most important trading ports in the British colonies.

As the age of sail gave way to the age of steam in the middle of the 19th century, India Wharf, which, with Orne’s Wharf, eventually became the southern border of the Salem Harbor Station site, was expanded to accommodate a coal depot where seagoing vessels off-loaded their coal and the Salem & Lowell Railroad took the coal to power the manufacturing facilities in Lowell, MA.

The site of that original coal depot is in almost the exact location of the now-retired coal pile where coal was stored for the old Salem Harbor Station.

Interactive Timeline of Site History


Did you know?

Salem Harbor is part of an almost 200-year-old energy delivery tradition at India Wharf. This began with the use of the wharf in the 1830s for coal deliveries for industrial New England. The coal- and oil-burning Units 1-4 of Salem Harbor Station were the next chapter. Now, the new Salem Harbor Station represents the future in energy production, adapting best currently available technologies.

Years of Coal Power

While the more than 150 years of use of the Salem Harbor site for coal is now, finally, at an end, the vision of Salem Harbor as a location for powering the progress of Massachusetts and the nation continues.

Footprint Power is developing a state-of-the-art generating facility that reduces gas usage in New England, reduces costs of wholesale energy, dramatically reduces system-wide emissions including greenhouse gases, and paves the way for greater reliance on renewable resources in the future.

We are often asked by our neighbors and others what we plan to do on the rest of the site after construction of the power plant is complete. We will have a little over 40 acres that will need to be developed. Our plan is to work with the City of Salem on a modification to the Harbor Plan that will allow reimagining the site with the right mix of commercial, industrial and residential uses and public access. Our goal is to make the site a place people will want to come.

Community Input

It has always been clear that the Salem community was well poised to envision a new life for Salem Harbor; this observation was reinforced through the public review process sponsored by the City of Salem that examined the reuse potential for the site, and through many meetings with local leaders, members of the community, and advocacy groups.

By the time the acquisition of Salem Harbor from its prior owner closed in August 2012, Footprint Power had a good understanding of the needs of the community and was able to launch the development program for the quick-start combined-cycle gas turbine project that will represent the first step in the redevelopment of this 65-acre site.

Did you know?

In demolishing the old plant, Footprint Power has (at this time) recovered approximately 84,000 tons of materials, of which 37,500 tons has consisted of masonry that is being ground up and used as fill on-site, and 42,000 tons has been various metals that have been recycled. Only 38 tons of material has needed to be sent to landfills, representing a 99.95% reuse/recycle for the project!

Development to Date

When Footprint Power set out to implement its business plan of transitioning outdated coal plants to new productive uses, Salem Harbor Station topped the list, based on its strong infrastructure (deep-water port access, proximity to interstate natural gas line and transmission headroom, among other things) and the presence of an owner for whom the asset did not fit its strategic outlook.

The changing energy needs of our nation, and our growing understanding of the impact of our activities on the plane, had rendered the four old units of the power plant obsolete. The power plant, the site, and the City of Salem all needed a fresh start. Footprint is making that happen. Footprint Power’s goal is to develop a new power station that supports the environment and the people around it.

The New England Electric System, commonly known by its acronym NEES, commenced construction of Salem Power Station on December 7, 1948. Initially consisting of two coal-fired generating units, the station was built to meet the increasing demand for electrical power in the North Shore area after the end of World War II. Unit 1 came on line in November 1951, with Unit 2 in full operation by October 1952.

Units 1 and 2 together provided about 160 megawatts (MW) of electrical capacity, enough to power about 150,000 modern homes, which was adequate for the times. However, by the mid-1950s it was clear that more was needed, and NEES began work on Unit 3, another coal-fired generating unit. Unit 3 had a capacity of 150 MW. In 1972, NEES brought the last of the four turbines of the original station on line, oil-fired Unit 4, with a capacity of 445 MW.

With Units 1-2 already offline when it purchased the facility, Footprint Power brought the Salem Harbor Station Units 3-4 offline on May 31, 2014, after more than 65 years of service. Phase 1 of the demolition plan began in July and ran through December 2014. In that time, 11 oil tanks were removed as well as the aboveground pipelines, the settling basins, and the 430-foot stack that previously stood at the southern end of the plant. The second phase, which began in January 2016, consists of the demolition of the remaining structures on the site that are not intended for reuse, including the stacks (which have now been completely demolished), the boiler house, the turbine hall, and many of the remaining outbuildings.

Did you know?

At the height of operations, the old Salem Harbor Station employed more than 300 individuals performing a variety of tasks, including fuel handling, maintenance, engineering, environmental compliance, and accounting.

A Dedicated Workforce

By the time the last unit shut down, there were 106 men and women employed at the station, all committed to serving the North Shore through the reliable delivery of electrical power, many of them having been employed there for decades.

In addition to the years of service in maintaining the original four units of the station, these dedicated workers also have been instrumental in laying the groundwork for the safe shutdown, decommissioning, and demolition of the existing structures and for the construction of Units 5 and 6, the new, state-of-the-art combined-cycle units that will replace the old units.

Copyright 2017 Footprint Power
Salem Harbor Development Team

Footprint Power was pleased to work with its dedicated staff on the dual tasks of operating the two remaining units safely and reliably and, at the same time, in close collaboration with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 326, enabling all staff members to obtain retraining for new jobs after the old units shut down. As soon as Footprint Power acquired the facility, it established budgets and introduced additional flexibility to work schedules to allow staff members to pursue training programs in their chosen fields. Some of the plant staff wanted to stay in the energy business, but many chose to take this opportunity to start new careers.

A number of the original plant staff members continue to work at the site in various capacities related to the demolition of the old plant and the construction of the new plant. The rest of the plant staff members have found new employment opportunities or retired.

Footprint Power honors their service and is proud to have worked with them.