National Grid Shames Themselves And Salem
By William Legault
Let’s take a minute to talk about National Grid.
The cable replacement projects has been going very well. It appears to be on schedule and so far there have been no major complaints regarding noise or property damage. Inconvenience to residents along the route, and to the commuter seems to be the primary gripe and in all reality that is just unavoidable.
Good for them and good for us.
The cable needed to be replaced in order for National Grid to continue operating the transmission system they have here in Salem. They are not replacing it as a favor to us, and city government made sure that that safeguards were put in place to assure curb-to-curb replacement of all of the streets impacted by the removal.
National Grid however, has other responsibilities here. The responsibilities that come with being a property owner. They own the electrical transmission substation on Fort Avenue, and also the one on Canal Street. Neither of those are visual beauties, but as substations they appear to be well maintained.
They also own another seemingly dormant substation on Peabody Street. That one basically runs half of the length of the north side of the street. It is possibly their longest held property here in Salem. Years ago prior to the Great Salem Fire of 1914 it held a great coal pile used to fuel the city. After the fire a new state of the art facility was built to supply Salem with its energy needs here on the South River.
If you take a look at the entire property today it looks as if no maintenance has been done in a lifetime, with the exception of the small building and parking lot that abuts Peabody Park. There are usually one or two cars parked behind the locked gate so it would seem that there is some activity there. The condition of the substation infrastructure itself, the transformers and the absence off power lines call into question how active any of it is, or if any of it is active at all.
It also appears that the new transmission cable that runs down Congress Street bypassed this substation.
We have tried calling and emailing National Grid. Their telephone system is not set up for this sort of thing. It allows you to pay bills, complain about bills, and turn your juice on or off. It does not really make it easy to speak with someone who can speak to or address this sort of concern.
They also have so far indirectly ignored our private Facebook messages by assuring us that a billing representative will respond soon.
I understand that they would be hesitant to perform any real work there, especially if digging were required. If the towers, transformers, and lines are dormant, tearing them down may be an issue because there is certainly a variety of contaminants present in the soil, from coal ash for sure, and then probably a variety of PCB’s and acidic chemicals. Clean up would be costly.
That doesn’t matter and shouldn’t matter. National Grid owes it to Salem to have a long look at this property and then do the right thing.
The least that they should do is replace the ancient concrete wall, the dilapidated iron gates and chain link fencing, and pull out any obsolete or idle transmission infrastructure. A little landscaping would be nice also, as would a monthly sweeping of the sidewalk that sits on the lower end of the street and catches all of the trash when it rains.
The rusted, barbed wire and concertina covered chain link fence along the Salem Waterfront Hotel parking lot must certainly look attractive to the Salem visitors that park there. As does the weed strewn field that lead to the rusted transmission towers.
Hello National Grid. Are you listening? If not we are going to take steps to get you to listen.