Vermont Press Releases

Air pollution control permit approved for biomass project

For Immediate Release
February 15, 2012

Kevin Ellis
Phone: 802-371-8112
Email: [email protected]

Montpelier, Vt. – The Fair Haven Energy Center, a renewable energy facility proposed for Fair Haven, Vt., has received an air quality permit from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT-DEC). This permit confirms the air safety of the Fair Haven Energy Center.

The permit is the first issued to a combined electric generating and pellet manufacturing facility anywhere in the U.S., and the first issued in Vermont to an electricity generating plant of its size in 20 years.

“Receiving this permit is a credit to the incredibly advanced technology we are bringing to bear on this project,” said Managing Partner Tom Emero, of Beaver Wood Energy, developer of the project.

“Our proposed facility is one of the most advanced in the nation and will provide clean, renewable energy for Vermont once constructed. Vermont has very stringent pollution controls and standards. If our plant meets with approval here, it’ll get approval anywhere.”

There were no negative comments during the VT-DEC public meeting on October 13, a rarity in Vermont’s permitting landscape. The Fair Haven Energy Center – slated for construction in Fair Haven, Vt. – has strong and vocal support from the townspeople.

“This permit and project are good news for our community,” said Rep. William Canfield, R-Fair Haven. “There was no local opposition to the Fair Haven Energy Center air permit and that’s significant. Our area needs the jobs promised by this renewable energy project.”

“The community of Fair Haven has really come together on this project,” said Sen. William Carris, D-Rutland. “The Fair Haven Energy Center will create jobs and improve the health of our forests. It will also increase Rutland County’s self-sufficiency, help combat climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The project will create at least 230 permanent jobs in the Rutland area as well as generate $1.1 million in property taxes for the town. It will also generate millions of dollars in state revenue.

In addition to employing at least 50 full-time staff at the facility and adding 140 jobs in the forest services sector, the Fair Haven Energy Center will generate hundreds of jobs from the $32 million annual operating budget over the 40 year useful life of the facility as well as the nearly 1,000 jobs required to build thefacility over a 24-month construction period.

“This energy plant will bring many good jobs to Rutland County. The clean air permit is a big step forward and we’re eager to see this project move forward,” said Senator Peg Flory, R-Pittsford.

The Fair Haven Energy Center boasts a biomass electric plant, wood pellet manufacturing plant, plus space for local food growers or othermanufacturers with an available steady supply of inexpensive heat.

“Our aim is to produce local, renewable, base-load power for the area,” said Emero. “This clean air permit brings us one step closer to achieving that goal.”

Link to the permit:

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  • It is hypocritical that as the State of Vermont moves forward with legislation to ensure the health coverage of all Vermonters, it simultaneously approves air permits for the Fair Haven biomass power incinerator, which, if built, will expose Vermonters to even higher levels of air pollution than they are already being forced to endure–including deadly particulate matter at greater levels than a coal plant.

    Rutland currently is the worst city in the United States for asthma rates. This incinerator will only add to the suffering of Vermonters, worsen climate change, degrade Vermont’s iconic forests, while lining the pockets of out of state developers Beaver Wood Energy.

    It is even more absurd that as the State of Vermont joins a lawsuit to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency for air pollution levels, they approve a permit to add more air pollution to impact the health of Vermonters. Currently the McNeil biomass power incinerator in Burlington is the state’s biggest polluter. Fair Haven biomass might give McNeil a run for its money.

    It is false to state there is “no local opposition” to the project. I have been in touch with individuals in Fair Haven and an adjacent town who are very concerned about the project. At a talk we gave a year ago in Fair Haven, explaining the impacts of biomass incineration, an individual stood up and told us that there are folks who don’t want the facility, but they are afraid to speak up because Beaver Wood Energy spent so much money on local PR misinforming Fair Haven residents.

    It is a shame that most Fair Haven residents haven’t even been told about the health impacts from biomass incineration that health organizations such as American Lung Association, doctors and nurses across the U.S. have been sounding the alarm about. Once again, Vermonters are being blackmailed with a false choice between a thriving economy and public health and the environment.

    Aren’t two giant, polluting biomass power incinerators enough for the Green Mountain State? Fair Haven is also looking at a microhydro project. That is the sort of community scale energy informed Vermonters want, not this polluting, forest-devouring monstrosity.

    Josh Schlossberg
    community organizer, East Montpelier

    • fred burlett

      Josh..if you would notice the new technology of our time has leaped way ahead of the generation plants in Burlington Vt.Please educate your self on the latest technology before you put down such a important project.And bring yourself up to date on what the people in Fair Haven have been told.The towns around Fair Haven support the project as shown in a letter to the State of Vermont.

  • Mike McCormick


    I dont know where you get your information from but it is inaccurate. Wood pollutes far less than oil or coal-period. A plant of this size will have particulate filters on it the do not allow particulate into the atmoshere.

    The air pollution we have in the northeast is NOT from our energy production, it is from the midwest coal plants. There probably is some pollution from smaller and/or older wood burners. But today, they are not allowed to be sold unless them meet rigid air emission standards of the EPA and other agencies. Just like old oil boilers in peoples houses or old cars still on the road that dont meet todays emission requirements, it takes time to get them out of service and replaced.

    In the meantime, we need to lower heating costs for everyone in our region, and get off foreign fossile fuels.

    As a community organizer, you should do your research and present only facts for others to consider, not your personal agenda.

  • Mr. McCormick:

    I have done the research and particulate emissions from biomass power plants are indeed higher than coal and natural gas.

    (Data from Beaver Wood Energy’s draft air permit)

    If you take issue with the data, please take that up with the EPA, American Lung Association and other scientists and medical professionals from whom I obtain my documentation, rather than attempting to defame my professional reputation.

  • Scott Carvage

    Congratulations on the state of Vermonts decision to actually allow a new business to be built and run in the state. Very unusual for this to happen, that is, unless it happens to be an inn or souvenir shop for the out of state tourists. I also agree that far too many people are being misinformed about these kind if power plants. I was born and raised in Vermont, lived the first 30 years of my life there until moving to PA in 2000. So you may say ” what the hell do you care, you don’t live here”. Yes, I don’t, BUT the rest of my family do.

    They are built to use waste wood, tops and branches from forest management, scraps from construction, foliage waste, etc. People will not run out of firewood to heat their homes. Which by the way, is a far greater source of air pollution than what these plants will create. For that matter, the constant traffic that runs throughout the state does too. If folks are so worried that these plants are going to make the air they breath intolerable, then stop using wood to heat homes and ban all motor vehicles from operating in the state. Yes I know that sounds far fetched, but it is true.

    The emmissions from one of these plants MUST go through a very sophisticated scrubber system that actually cleanses the fine participates out before being released into the atmosphere. Yes, there will be an incredibly minuscule amount that will escape, but you get more from the exhaust from your vehicle running while you stop at Jiffy Mart for your morning coffee. The “smoke” you see being emmitted from the power plant “smokestack” is not smoke, it is water vapor with the trace amounts of particulate pollution. I know this because I work around them everyday at a coal fired hydro power plant in Pennsylvania.
    The manufacturing of the wood pellets at these plants are another bonus for the powered plant as well as for customers. They are far cleaner burning than logs, and much easier for folks than having to lug around and stack cord wood. Also, the lowered tax rates for citizens of the towns is a bonus. Big business gets to pay a little more, meaning that folks can get a break. Sounds like a win-win situation to me. And remember, YOU CAN NOT HAVE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS WITHOUT A LITTLE SACRIFICE. But, you also can’t have a state survive without business that will employ people in the state. That is, unless you feel it is better for the federal government and tax payers throughout the country, paying your way throgh life, thus becoming a complete welfare state. If people continue to complain that it is an outside state coming in to set up shop, too bad. Do you feel the same way about Honda or Subaru or Hyundai building their vehicles in America? I guarantee that the employees don’t, not with the security and wages they make.

  • diane hausler

    A wood pellet manufacturing plant started operating in our town in Boyne City Mi in November of 2011. I would recommend to those of you who are supporting this plant to check out you tube, NOISY AND SMELLY PELLET PLANTS. If we had known what we know now, we would never had allowed this to happen to our town.