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Now, opponents of a proposed 350-megawatt plant are trying this route again — this time with what they consider a stronger case.
The Energy Facilities Siting Board approved a state license for the project in July, but left final zoning and planning decisions in the hands of local boards.
In a statement, siting board officials said the city has “veto power” over the project and that the energy benefits of the plant “don’t outweigh the potential local impacts.”
Brockton Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy, a project critic, said he hopes the siting board’s stance will help persuade the Legislature to act on a “home-rule petition” banning the plant.
“I think we have a better chance because of the fact the siting board has given Brockton more control,” Brophy said.
Last year there was concern in the Legislature about circumventing the siting board process, but the board’s process is now done, Brophy added.
The company behind the project is Boston-based Advanced Power Services NA. Company spokesman Wes Eberle declined to comment on the home-rule petition, saying the company is more concerned with seeking approvals from city boards and trying to persuade residents and officials to support the project.
“Our focus is on the local process,” Eberle said.
The $350 million plant would generate electricity by burning natural gas and diesel, and would be built off Oak Hill Way on the city’s south side. Financially, it would be the largest development in Brockton’s history.
But Brockton Mayor James E. Harrington and 10 of 11 city councilors oppose the project, citing studies showing the potential for health impacts from increased air pollution.
The council recently voted to send a home-rule petition to the Legislature that would prohibit fossil fuel power plants from being built in Brockton.
The petition could be passed into law by the Legislature as a special act, city officials say.
Home-rule petitions allow municipal governments to ask the Legislature for practically anything, as long as the request is constitutional, said David Luberoff, executive director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University.
Home-rule requests are common, he said, although usually they don’t deal with issues as major as banning a power plant.
“This is presumably one where the precedent is significant enough, that one would hope the Legislature would look at it somewhat more closely,” Luberoff said.
The petition will start out at a joint committee of the Legislature. Most likely this will be the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said Mike Mullen, chief of staff to state Rep. Christine Canavan, D-Brockton.
From there it could be brought to the Senate and House for a vote to pass it into law, officials say.
In last year’s similar attempt — an amendment to the state budget banning power plants from Brockton — the state Senate voted in support.
But the measure failed in the House of Representatives in July 2008, where Speaker Sal DiMasi opposed it. DiMasi has since resigned.
But another key opponent of the measure remains in his seat, Sen. Michael Morrissey, who chairs the utilities committee that is expected to first hear the petition. Morrissey, D-Quincy, did not return a message Wednesday.
Last year, Morrissey said prohibiting power plants from being built in a community would set a bad precedent.
“If we take that avenue, why doesn’t everyone else in House and Senate do the same thing?” he told The Enterprise at the time.
Along with the home-rule petition, Brockton officials are also planning to file an appeal asking the state Supreme Judicial Court to deny the state license awarded by the siting board.