One State, Two Attitudes

Beaver Wood Energy experiences two different local climates in Vermont.
By Lisa Gibson | November 23, 2010

Beaver Wood Energy’s proposed 30 megawatt power plant and pellet mill in Pownal, Vt., has experienced more local concern than its identical proposed facility in Fair Haven, Vt. This  can be attributed primarily to topographical differences, but also to where the communities are located.
Pownal sits in a valley, stirring up concerns about emissions, along with truck traffic and water use.

“We definitely aren’t experiencing the same level of concern at Fair Haven,” says Tom Emero, managing director of development and operations for Beaver Wood Energy. “Vermont has by far one of the most aggressive permitting structures in the country and [Fair Haven residents] appear more confident that that aggressive structure will do a good job of ensuring that this plant is an excellent part of their community.” Emero does not consider the concerned Pownal locals as opposition, but simply a group of people seeking more information on the facility.

Many concerns come from the neighboring state that has positioned itself as the least welcoming of biomass power plants: Massachusetts. Pownal is 1.5 miles from the Vermont/Massachusetts state line and citizens there have played a significant role in raising objections. “There are certainly a lot of people from Massachusetts expressing concern,” Emero says. But he adds that Massachusetts locals are not responsible for the concerns of Pownal residents.

Vermont already has two biomass plants that have been operational for more than 20 years and are viewed as positives, says Eric Kingsley, vice president of Maine-based Innovative Natural Source Solutions LLC., who has attended public hearings in Pownal. In fact, Vermont’s political leadership supports biomass and the state will need new energy generation, as it may not renew the license of a 600 MW nuclear plant, he adds.   

Both facilities should be completed in late 2013 or early 2014, Emero says.