SOMERSET — President Biden stressed the need to act with urgency to address climate change during his visit to Brayton Point on Wednesday. And Somerset, he said, is helping to lead that charge.
The president spoke at the site of the former Brayton Point Power Station, where there will soon be a substation for a nearby wind farm and a factory manufacturing power cables for the wind power industry.
The power plant, as Biden described it, was the largest of its kind in New England and could power one in five homes and businesses in the state.
“For over 50 years this power plant supported this place’s economy through the electricity they supplied, the good jobs they provided and the local taxes they paid,” he said. “But the plant, like many others around the country, had another legacy.”
People living near the former power plant have had to deal with heavy doses of things like toxic smog and greenhouse gas emissions, he said, calling it “the kind of pollution that contributes to the climate emergency we face today.”
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“But that’s in the past. And we’re gonna build a different future, one with clean energy and good paying jobs,” he said.
Now, Brayton Point is a poster child for the movement to transition away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy.
The town is “on the frontier of clean energy in America,” Biden said.
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In his speech, Biden emphasized the job opportunities that can come with transiting to renewable energy sources. He pointed to the incoming power cable factory as an example. He said he met with the CEO of Vineyard Winds at the White House earlier this month to discuss their nearby wind turbine development and the “good-paying union jobs” it will bring.
The speech marked a proud day for local officials.
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State Rep. Patricia Haddad, who played a key role in bringing the wind power industry to Somerset, was in the audience of elected officials during Wednesday’s speech. She said she was glad the president understood how important Somerset is to the broader renewable energy industry.
“We’re just thrilled,” she said. “It’s such an honor that he would come to make such a strong statement here.”
She also praised the Biden administration’s movement on granting key permits for potential wind energy projects.
Allen Smith, chair of the Somerset Board of Selectmen, was also in attendance.
“I think this will continue to serve the message that Brayton Point is the hub of renewable energy here in Massachusetts,” he said.
Audrey Cooney can be reached at email@example.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.