Nearly 300 coal-fired power plants have been “retired” since 2010, according to the Sierra Club. It’s a trend that continues despite President Trump’s support for coal. That has left many communities worried that those now-idled places will simply be mothballed.
“We don’t want to see sites like this rust away, be eyesores on the community and offer no real tax revenue going forward, no employment opportunities,” says Denise Brinley, executive director at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Energy.
Her state has seen 14 coal plants shut down in the past nine years. As a result, the Department of Community and Economic Development has created a plan for redeveloping some of them.
The agency produces promotional “playbooks” that outline the characteristics of a site — both the benefits and drawbacks — and then offers ideas for what kinds of businesses might locate there.
One of the first plans is for a stretch of about 219 acres along the Susquehanna River in the small central Pennsylvania town of Shamokin Dam.
Drive into town, and you can’t miss four tall smokestacks rising from a huge brick building. It housed the coal-fired power plant’s steam generators, which produced electricity for more than six decades before the facility shut down in 2014.
Support comes from
These days there’s new activity at the site. On the north edge, crews are laying a concrete foundation for a different kind of plant, a medical marijuana cultivating facility. It’s quite a shift for the typically sedate power generation business.
“There were a few chuckles in the conference calls in the mornings when we were first talking about it as an opportunity,” says Joe Zokaites, principal of Arcova, which is redeveloping the site. “But everyone is on board and supports it now.”
The Massachusetts company Insa is building