Tag Archives: massachusetts

[NEWS] Pittsfield, MA Trash Incinerator Will Operate For At Least 4 More Years

– by Dick Lindsay, October 11, 2016, Berkshire Eagle


Covanta Pittsfield (Photo: Ben Garver/Berkshire Eagle)

For at least four more years, Covanta will take trash and recyclables of Pittsfield and surrounding communities.

By a vote of 10-1, Councilor-at-Large Melissa Mazzeo opposed, the City Council Tuesday night backed Mayor Linda Tyer’s request to give $562,000 in Pittsfield Economic Development funds so the solid waste-to-energy and recycling facility can make the necessary upgrades to meet state and federal environmental standards and remain profitable.

Covanta announced in early July that it planned to close the Hubbard Avenue trash burning plant because the high operating costs and the size of the plant made it unprofitable. Tyer and her administration immediately began working on a financial package to entice the New Jersey-based company to forgo its plan to cease operation in March.

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[AUDIO] The Future of Biomass Energy in New England (with Evan Dell’Olio, Roberts Renewable Energy)

The Future of Biomass Energy in New England


The Great North Woods of New England is a source of clean air and water, wildlife habitat, carbon storage, tourism and recreation. The bioenergy industry also considers it an abundant source of fuel for heating and electricity.

On Thursday, October 20 The Biomass Monitor spoke with Evan Dell’Olio, Director of External and Regulatory Affairs for Roberts Energy Renewables, who has analyzed current trends to lay out his predictions for the future of biomass energy in New England.

The Biomass Monitor conference calls are held the 3rd Thursday of every month. For the recording of this call go to thebiomassmonitor.org and subscribe to our free, monthly online journal investigating the whole story on bioenergy, biomass, and biofuels.

Biomass Energy Generating Controversy

– by Josh Schlossberg, September 1, 2016, Earth Island Journal

Kevin Bundy has tramped through his share of forests in California’s Sierra Nevada. Where he sees a diverse ecosystem of ponderosa pine, incense cedar, and white fir, prime wildlife habitats, and one of the world’s best buffers against climate change, many public and private land managers see something different. Of course, they too observe living forests, but they also see tinder for future wildfires, as well as an opportunity to procure home-grown, renewable biomass energy.

A senior attorney with the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity, Bundy works at the national level to ensure strict accounting of carbon emissions from the burning of biomass, and on the local level to limit the type of fuels burned by biomass facilities. He’s convinced that the nation needs to “get away from fossil fuels and shift to 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as possible,” given the threat of climate change. But while he acknowledges biomass might be renewable “in some sense,” he sees it as “something of a false solution to our climate and energy challenges” compared to other renewable sources like solar and wind.

Yet biomass is big business in the United States. In 2014, half of “renewable” energy in the US came from bioenergy – that is, from burning trees, crop residues (most often from corn and soybean harvests), manure, and even trash to produce electricity and heat, or to manufacture liquid transportation fuels like ethanol or biodiesel. Meanwhile, hydropower accounted for 26 percent, wind made up 18 percent, and solar accounted for a mere 4.4 percent. A significant increase in biomass energy production is likely as the US tries to ramp up its renewables output.

There remains considerable debate about just how prominently biomass should feature in energy planning, what with disagreements about the impact it has on forests and agricultural land, how clean it is, and its contributions to climate change. Much of the public is also confused about how biomass compares to other forms of renewable energy. This confusion reflects the conflicting scientific opinions and government policies regarding biomass energy.

READ MORE at Earth Island Journal

[NEWS] A Standard for Biomass Wood Chips?

– by Anna Simet, August 26, 2016, Biomass Magazine

wood_chips_biomassThe rate at which small- and industrial-scale biomass thermal or combined-heat-and-power (CHP) systems are being installed in the U.S. has slowed a bit in the wake of the global oil price depression, but use is still on the rise as schools, universities, hospitals and others continue to choose biomass thermal as a replacement for outdated and inefficient oil boilers. This is particularly true in the Northeast U.S., where, for many years, there has been a growing movement to adopt, expand, incentivize and educate the public of the benefits of modern wood heat. Coincidentally, the region is also home to the most heating oil-addicted states.

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[NEWS] Springfield, MA Mayor Urges Construction Of Biomass Facility

– by Paul Tuthill, August 23, 2016, WAMC


Springfield, MA Mayor Dominick Sarno and biomass opponents (WAMC)

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno Tuesday called for the long-delayed construction of a wood-burning power plant to move forward. Project opponents, who had a chance encounter with the mayor, say they are not giving up.

About two dozen people rallied in Court Square in downtown Springfield Tuesday afternoon to protest the decision by the city’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris not to hold a site assignment hearing for the biomass power plant that Palmer Renewable Energy proposes to build in East Springfield.

Lisa Torres, an organizer with Arise for Social Justice, said a local health board review is necessary to ascertain the impact the plant would have on Springfield’s already poor air quality and high rates of child asthma.

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[NEWS] Health Commissioner Will Not Block Springfield, MA Biomass Facility

– by Dan Glaun, August 18, 2016, Springfield Republican


Opposition to Springfield, Massachusetts biomass proposal (Lucas Ropek)

Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris will not initiate site assignment proceedings against the proposed East Springfield biomass plant, clearing a path for a project that has survived court challenges, city council opposition and protest from neighborhood organizers who describe the plant as a menace to public health.

Caulton-Harris wrote that opponents did not present convincing evidence that the plant would fail to meet EPA and MassDEP standards, and also that those standards are sufficient to protect residents.

“It is therefore decided that a site assignment hearing shall not be ordered for the project at this time,” Caulton-Harris wrote.

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[OPINION] Massachusetts: A Clear Path Forward for Biomass Energy

[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “Massachusetts: The Hoax of Biomass and Modern Forestry,” by RG Cachat, biochemist and ecologist]

– by Evan B. Dell’Olio, Director of External and Regulatory Affairs, Roberts Energy Renewables

With 3.1 million forested acres, Massachusetts is the 15th most forested state in the nation. Over 60% of the Bay State is covered in forested land, a conglomeration of privately and publically owned acreage, much of which sits in the state’s five most western counties. Of this land, 79% is owned either by private landowners or land trusts and the remaining 21% is held publically by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Since the arrival of our Puritan forbearers, these woodlands have provided a renewable natural resource for the manufacture of consumer goods and energy. Many private landowners have relied on a healthy forest economy to provide valuable cash crops in the form of cut timber and allow for the maintenance of such land for recreational purposes and the forests’ ultimate preservation.

The sawmill, as much a staple of the quintessential New England village as the dairy farm, cider mill, and sugar house, is quickly disappearing from Massachusetts’ rural landscape. While historically much of Massachusetts’ woodlands were subject to clearcutting, the Commonwealth has been a leader in sustainable forest management practices for over 70 years. Since 1943, Chapter 132 of the Massachusetts General Laws has protected the Bay State’s woodlands from destructive forest management practices. Over the decades this statute was revised on four separate occasions, each time reflecting the best interests of land preservation and forest health while allowing for continued managed timber harvesting. However, during this same period that the Commonwealth has been assuring the longevity of the forests, the health of the region’s forest products economy has experienced a precipitous decline, irrevocably damaging Massachusetts’ rural economy.

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[OPINION] Massachusetts: The Hoax of Biomass and Modern Forestry

[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “Massachusetts: A Clear Path Forward for Biomass Energy,” by Evan Dell’Olio, Director, External and Regulatory Affairs, Roberts Energy Renewables] 

– by RG Cachat, Biochemist and Ecologist

The Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] is partnering with private landowners to create National pseudo-Forests, which are fronted as “conservation” while failing all tests of real-world conservation.

Forests owned by the State are being logged at drastic, nearly clear-cut levels and at unsustainable rates. The character of forests is being forced toward monocultures of pine and hemlock by suppressing succession to hardwoods. They are treated as plantations and their productivity is tracked, while vulnerable species studies are lacking. The State has seen the end of more than a dozen species in recent years with no change to tactics.

While billing the wholesale commercializing of public lands for resource extraction as “forest management” and “sustainable,” the state is creating habitats that suit only a small group of megafauna. The State is causing biodiversity crashes while touting biodiversity. Invasive plants are introduced and spread by creation of extremely disrupted habitats and logging roads. All species that are sensitive to repeated habitat change at extreme levels are threatened by state-sponsored pseudo-science.

Biomass is an appealing “easy out” for wasteful energy policies and land barons hungry for quick cash. This sweetheart deal for big landholders is sold as “carbon neutral,” when the facts show this to be a carbon hoax. Taxpayers are lured in by promises of cheap energy and reduced taxes on the myth that this practice is sustainable, or healthy for forests, people or the climate.

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[NEWS] Mixed Feelings on Possible Closure of Massachusetts Trash Incinerator

– by Adam Frenier, August 2, 2016, New England Public Radio


Covanta’s Pittsfield, MA trash incinerator (Adam Frenier/New England Public Radio)

Pittsfield city officials are trying to figure out their next step with the city’s trash incinerator poised to shut down in March. Covanta the operator of the waste-to-energy facility, says economic conditions are causing them to close the plant. This news has been met with applause by environmentalists and has sent at least one business scrambling.

The incinerator isn’t much on the eyes. It’s a gray, concrete building with several small chimneys on the roof and a large smoke stack next to it, the output of which you can see from a distance during the cold Berkshire winter. Along with commercial customers, Pittsfield trucks the garbage here that residents leave on their curb. And while it’s burned, steam is generated.

Much of it is piped eight-tenths of a mile just over the town line to Dalton, to Crane Paper.

Crane is the only maker of paper for US currency. During a recent tour, a turbine generating some of the electricity the factory needs screeches away. Most of the steam, though, is used in the paper-making process.

Rich Rowe, the head of Crane’s currency paper operation says if the Pittsfield trash incinerator does go off-line, the company will have to shell out several million dollars to buy a new boiler in order to generate steam. And going forward?

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[NEWS] Massachusetts Passes Bill Providing “Waste-to-Energy” Credits

– by Mintz Levin, August 2, 2016, Lexology

bluemap_3_0The bill, H.4568, includes several provisions that directly affect the operations of utility and energy companies in the state:

Offshore wind contract solicitations must begin by June 2017, with procurements every two years of at least 400 MWs each, until the total 1,600 MWs has been contracted. Contracts sufficient to achieve delivery of the specified amount of power must be executed by 2027.

Hydropower and land-based wind power contract solicitations must begin prior to April 2017 and be executed before December 2022. They must be a “cost effective mechanism for procuring low cost renewable energy on a long-term basis,” as determined by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

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