By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—The Energy Facilities Siting Board has extended its latest hearings about the proposed 350-megawatt natural gas power plant and has also requested a representative of the City of Brockton attend those hearings to update the board on Brockton’s drinking water supply.
Initially hearings were expected to close Monday, Dec. 6, however, because at least four witnesses testifying in the matter have yet to be heard, the hearings have been extended to Friday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 22 at 9:30 a.m.
Also, the EFSB Presiding Officer Robert Shea has requested—through city lawyers who attended Monday’s meeting--a city representative give the board a review of Brockton’s drinking water supply, its sources and its capacity.
City officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Eugene Benson, who attended Monday’s meeting and is a lawyer representing a group of residents from Brockton and West Bridgewater who are opposed to the project, said Shea made the request because one of the major changes to be decided in this round of hearings is what type of water will cool the plant’s powerful turbines.
“This isn’t a direct quote, but (Shea) said he wanted a representative of the city to voluntarily attend the meeting, and if not voluntarily would issue a subpoena,” Benson said.
Supplying water to cool the plant’s turbines is one of the reasons the EFSB hearings are being held.
Brockton Power, the company that has proposed the power plant on Oak Hill Way in Brockton, has made several major changes to plans that were initially approved by the EFSB.
One of those changes is the type of water that will be used to cool the turbines.
In the initial approval, Brockton Power expected to negotiate with the city and pay for use of 2 million gallons of treated wastewater, or effluent that flows from the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
However, city officials have publicly sided with opponents of the project and have refused to negotiate with Brockton Power for the effluent, and as a result, Brockton Power has requested the EFSB approve using the city’s drinking water instead.
The city has also refused to discuss selling the drinking water to Brockton Power, a point several people who attended Monday’s meeting said may have prompted Shea to say he would subpoena the city to discuss the water issue if someone didn’t come voluntarily.