Protesters arrested after climbing inactive smokestack at Bow power plant

  • Jan. 8 2020 No Coal, No gas—Courtesy

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    Protestors put a sign on one of the stacks at Merrimack Station in Bow that reads "Shut it down." —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 1/10/2022 5:02:09 PM
Modified: 1/10/2022 5:01:17 PM

Four climate activists were arrested Saturday after two of them scaled the smokestack at the Merrimack Station power plant in Bow, the latest action by a group seeking closure of New England’s last coal-fired power plant.

Four people with the organization No Coal No Gas entered the plant property on Saturday afternoon. Two scaled an inactive smokestack and dropped a banner reading “Shut It Down,” while two locked themselves to the base of the stack. They were arrested at about 10:30 p.m., released later and are expected in court on a later date.

The group has long pushed to shut down the plant, noting that coal contributes much more to global warming than any other fuel used to produce electricity.

“This action is the next step in our campaign escalation,” said Leif Taranta, No Coal No Gas campaign coordinator. “We are determined to do what must be done to prevent this plant from running, even if that means we have to shut it down ourselves.”

The move comes as cold weather and resulting high power prices has Merrimack Station running at full blast after sitting idle for most of the year. It receives several million dollars a year in what are known as capacity payments, in return for guaranteeing being able to provide electricity during peaks or emergencies. Those payments are set through 2024; a February auction will determine whether they continue beyond then.

No Coal No Gas protesters have previously blocked trains bringing coal to the plant and blocked the main entrance, leading to arrests. In October, state police arrested 18 people during a mass demonstration outside the power plant’s front gate. The arrests were made after police gave warnings over a loudspeaker.

“Why is it that a property owner receives this protection?” said Chris Balch, a former state representative from Wilton, who was among one of the protestors arrested in October.

The 448-megawatt Merrimack Station is owned by Granite Shore Power, an investment group that bought it from Eversource in 2017.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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