President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Somerset on Wednesday afternoon to highlight the work the town has done to convert the former Brayton Point Power Plant into an integral part of the production and distribution of wind energy.
Biden will use the speech to announce executive actions to address climate change as his agenda to combat the crisis faced a setback in Congress. The actions come as Congress appears unlikely to move on climate change.
Last month, the administration launched a federal-state partnership committed to growing the offshore wind power industry, with the specific aim of bolstering the supply chain needed to get wind farms up and running.
Politics of Climate Change in DC:As a congressional path for climate change measures appears to close, Biden to announce executive actions
Brayton Point is a prime example of how energy production has evolved in recent decades. Once the home of a coal-fired facility so notorious for pollution it topped a list of the “Filthy Five” most environmentally harmful plants in the state.
That transformation fits ideally with the Biden administration’s stated goal of producing more wind energy and consuming less fossil fuels.
Where is Somerset, MA
Somerset, Massachusetts, is a suburban town just west of Fall River. There were 18,303 people living in the community, according to the 2020 census.
The Bristol County town is 44 miles south of Boston and 20 miles southeast of Providence, Rhode Island. It is located on the western shore of the Taunton River and Mount Hope Bay.
It was settled in 1677 and incorporated in 1790. It is 12 square miles.
Biden will be the first president in Somerset, MA
President Joe Biden’s trip is apparently going to be brief, but while he’s in town he should make the most of his trip. Will he stop and visit any local businesses?
Dan Medeiros created a 5-point itinerary for the president to follow during his stay.
What to do in Somerset?:Ice cream galore and a ride on the Big Red Slide: 5 things Biden should do in Somerset
Other presidential visits to Somerset area and Fall River
Scrolling through the history books, it is clear many presidents have passed through the SouthCoast region. Others made it to the area before and after they held the country’s highest office.
Praising the area for its work ethic and “modern” workforce is not new. William Howard Taft visited Fall River on June 23, 1911, for the city’s Cotton Centennial Festival, commemorating 100 years of cotton cloth production in the city.
Taft also spoke at South Park, telling the crowd, “I congratulate you again on your wonderful progress and the happiness of your individual citizenship on every side, and wish you Godspeed in making greater steps forward in the next 100 years.” It is believed Taft’s trip attracted roughly 150,000 people.
Why presidents visited the SouthCoast?:Campaigns, summer homes, funerals and more
Road closures and traffic: Providence, RI to Somerset, MA
Swansea Police announced that Wilbur Avenue, Route 103, will be closed intermittently in the Gardner’s Neck Road area, with eastbound traffic being detoured north onto Gardner’s Neck Road.
What we know ahead of Biden’s visit:Road closures, no-fly zone: What to know about traffic and Biden’s visit to Somerset
Mayflower Wind: What is being proposed
Holding one of the seven leases for proposed wind farms in 1,400 square miles of federal waters near the coast of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, Mayflower Wind officials say its lease, with 149 turbines running at full capacity, could generate enough electricity to power a million homes in the state of Massachusetts.
The turbines would be 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 20 miles south of Nantucket, according to Mayflower Wind’s website.
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Mayflower Wind is going through an application process to run 1,200 MW of capacity cables to connect its offshore wind farm with a planned regional transmission facility in Somerset. The proposal is for two cables running up the Sakonnet River, underground for two miles across Island Park in Portsmouth, RI, and into the Mount Hope Bay, and then a cable to Cape Cod through the town of Falmouth.
What is being proposed in Rhode Island:Mayflower Wind wants to connect wind turbines to Somerset through Portsmouth. Here’s how.
What is being proposed on Cape Cod:Mayflower Wind plans to run electric transmission cable through Falmouth draws mixed views
The latest on Biden’s Executive Action on Climate Change
Fighting the heat: Biden’s actions Wednesday will include new funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program to protect communities facing extreme heat. Projects under the program aim to reduce the risks communities face from disasters and natural hazards.
Combating Climate Change:Biden to announce executive actions
Energy bills: Biden will also issue guidance to support the Department of Health and Human Services Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps families with energy costs.
Wind energy: The new action will also include boosting domestic offshore wind industry.
Brayton Point Power Plant’s history
Brayton Point Power Station was built by New England Power Co. on 306 acres of land in Somerset where the Taunton River meets Mount Hope Bay. Construction started in the late 1950s, with the plant commissioned in 1963.
By 1969, the plant had three power-generating units burning coal and producing just over 1,000 megawatts.
How Brayton Point Power Plant changed:Biden visiting Somerset to highlight power plant’s move from ‘Filthy Five’ to clean future
A fourth unit was constructed in the mid-1970s that burned either natural gas or oil, bringing the plant to its total of 1,537 megawatts, enough to power about 1.5 million homes.
In the early 1980s, the first three turbines returned to burning coal.
In May 2017, Brayton Point has received its last coal shipment. The plant was decommissioned and closed its doors.
The power plant and new cooling towers were demolished two years later.
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Staff from the Herald News, Providence Journal, Newport Daily News, Cape Cod Times and USA Today contributed to this article.