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Biomass plant causes a stir

In order to qualify for a $45 to $50 million (€33 to €36.8 million) federal grant, construction of the $250 million biomass/wood pellet plant planned for Pownal, Vermont, must begin before the end of this year.

However, the owners of the facility are facing opposition from local residents who are claiming that more time is needed in order to realise the full environmental impact of the plant. The Williamstown Select Board want information on air quality, the impact that the plant would have on the river and forests and the effect of increased traffic on Williamstown roads.

The Beaver Wood Energy Pownal project, which has been proposed for the former Green Mountain Race Track, will generate 29.5MW of electricity from 350,000 tonnes of tree tops and branches annually, in addition to around 11,000 tonnes of wood pellets from 200,000 tonnes of low-value logging waste trees. The power produced will be enough to benefit around 35,000 homes, according to William Bousquet, managing director of engineering and construction for the project.

Ron Turbin, chairman of the board, explained: ‘We want them to address to everyone’s satisfaction the air quality impacts, the impact on the Hoosic Rover, and increased road use and its financial impact before work begins.’