A proposed 55-megawatt peaking power plant in Peabody is drawing strong opposition from local climate activists. Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, joined Boston Public Radio on Thursday to share why she believes the area should look to alternative energy solutions.

“I think it's misguided,” Turnbull Henry said. “It has no place in a transition to a fossil fuel-free future. I'm sorry that it's moving forward.”

Peaking power plants, also known as peaker plants and “peakers,” are power plants that run when there is a peak demand in electricity. Peakers are typically turned on during the coldest and warmest days of the year to compensate for spikes in space heating and air conditioning. Most peakers run on oil or gas.

Critics of the Peabody peaker plant are concerned over high amounts of CO2 and other pollutants emitted from the plant, believing that the plant is incompatible with a new Massachusetts law aimed at lowering carbon emissions by at least 45% of 1990 levels by 2030 before attaining “net zero” emissions by 2050.

Proponents of the controversial plant point to the need for a reliable electric grid, claiming that the savings to ratepayers in the long term would far outweigh the fossil fuel facility’s estimated $85 million building cost. While Turnbull Henry acknowledges that a reliable electric grid is sorely needed in the region, she says alternative energy solutions are out there — if policymakers lead the way.

“It points to the need — big picture — to have a more resilient grid, to have more storage solutions, to be able to moderate when we have periods of demand,” Turnbull Henry said. “I mean, our grid right now is not particularly flexible. Nor do we particularly incentivize people to conserve when the grid is at these peak moments.

“There are lots and lots of alternatives, policy alternatives, that could preclude the need for the peaker, should we choose to accept those policies,” she said.

Elizabeth Turnbull Henry is the president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts.