Solar and storage to replace the last coal plants in New England


Following a settlement between Sierra Club, The Conservation Law Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency, New Hampshire’s two coal plants will close and be replaced by a solar plant with battery storage.

Under the settlement agreement, Granite Shore Power (GSP), owner of the two plants, shall cease operation of the Merrimack plant no later than June 1, 2028 and the Schiller plant no later than December 31, 2025.

After a long, but eventually fruitful fight, the Sierra Club estimates that 560 MW of fossil-fuel derived energy is set to go offline. GSP stated that from its “earliest days” the company had planned to transition its fossil-fuel burning facilities to clean energy, and said that the agreement to close the plants will facilitate the creation of “the first-of-their-kind renewable energy parks” in N.H.

The Schiller Station will house a battery energy storage system (BESS), helping to support grid reliability for the Seacoast region of N.H.

GSP said it expects the BESS to store energy generated by wind power that is now being built off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and in the Gulf of Maine.

The Merrimack Station served as a peaker plant, operating during periods when generation is needed quickly to maintain electrical system stability on the grid, and therefore played a lesser role in the state’s energy infrastructure, GSP said.

The Merrimack Station plant will be replaced by what GSP describes as a “clean energy center” to be built on the 400 acres of land in Bow.

The settlement makes New Hampshire the 16th coal-free state, the 12th to go coal-free since the Beyond Coal campaign launched in 2010. Beyond Coal is a campaign organized by the Sierra Club whose mission is to close all coal plants in the U.S. and replace them with clean energy.

The Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. was a source of air pollution, with its particulate matter (PM) found in February 2023 to exceed EPA limit by 70%, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environment Services (DES). The Sierra Club noted that a successful smoke stack retest has not been completed in the past year, and DES acknowledges that Merrimack Station is currently not in compliance with EPA standards.

The closure of Merrimack and Schiller is testament to the success of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, noting that these are the 380th and 381st coal plant retirements Sierra Club has championed alongside community and climate allies.

“This historic victory is a testament to the strength and resolve of those who never wavered in the fight for their communities and future,” said Ben Jealous, Sierra Club Executive Director. “The people of New Hampshire and all of New England will soon breathe cleaner air and drink safer water, and I’m incredibly proud to see the region continue to grow as a leader in the clean energy transition.”

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