Biomass project postponed after Vt. service board ruling

Beaver Wood Energy, the company that had been advocating for the construction of a biomass plant in Pownal, Vt., recently stated that it would suspend the permitting process for the Pownal plant. The company will focus instead on plans for a plant in Fair Haven, Vt., about 70 miles north of Williamstown.
Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for Public Affairs, said the College won’t forget about the proposal, even though it’s been postponed.
“Williams intends to be here forever and will re-engage with this process when or if the project is put back on the table,” he said.
On April 1, the Vermont Public Service Board ruled it does not have jurisdiction over the wood pellet site that Beaver Wood Energy had planned on constructing in Fair Haven, Vt., in conjunction with the Pownal plant. The board also requested that Beaver Wood Energy indicate its future plans by April 18.
The board’s rulings call for further examination of which permitting process Beaver Wood Energy can use. According to an article in the Bennington Banner, a representative of the company called the decision of the Vermont Public Service Board disappointing, since it appears that the permitting process will now be longer, more complicated and more expensive.
This was not the first ruling that the Vermont Public Service Board issued against Beaver Wood Energy. In December, the board had previously rejected the company’s request to begin construction early in order to qualify for a federal grant.
The College was granted intervenor status in January due to its proximity to the proposed site in Pownal. Such status allows the College to formally present its concerns about any possible adverse effects of the plant.
The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives has played a large role at the College in the many biomass discussions.
“If there is a silver lining, it is that many of us have renewed our commitment to find and promote good, clean, fair energy sources,” said Stephanie Boyd, director of the Zilkha Center. “The Zilkha Center staff and colleagues will continue to work with the local community to explore opportunities for cleaner sources of energy for the College and the surrounding community.”

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