Tag Archives: vermont

[NEWS] Biomass Facility Rejection Taken to Vermont Supreme Court

– by Gordon Dritschilo, March 29, 2017, Rutland Herald

beaver wood energy

Proposed Fairhaven Biomass Facility (Graphic: Beaver Wood Energy)

An attempt to revive a biomass project has hit a speed bump that has the developer taking his case to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Ted Verrill, owner of Pequot Energy in Connecticut, has filed notice he is appealing the Public Service Board’s rejection of a powerpurchase agreement that would have paved the way for the former Beaver Wood Energy project — now referred to as Fair Haven Generation — to resume development.

Pequot owns the Fair Haven project, and was pursuing a power purchase agreement with VEPP Inc., the nonprofit organization administering two renewable energy programs on behalf of the state.

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Biomass Energy: Carbon Neutral or Not? [SPRING 2017]

To access this issue, please subscribe to quarterly issues of The Biomass Monitor

Biomass Energy: Carbon Neutral or Not?

Study Assesses Economic Benefits of Biomass Energy on Rural Communities

OPINION: Middlebury College Declares Carbon Neutrality, Thanks to Biomass

OPINION: Middlebury Biomass Not Carbon Neutral 

[NEWS] Vermont Hospital’s Heating Facility May Burn Woody Biomass

– by Edward Damon, November 4, 2016, Bennington Banner

client_southwestern_vermont_medical_centerA new boiler plant at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center cleared local permitting this week, but state regulators still need to sign off on the project.

Development Review Board members on Tuesday approved the site plan for a new central heating plant, a $3.75 million project that SVMC officials estimate would save $200,000 a year and lower the hospital’s carbon emissions. Oil-fired boilers would be replaced with more efficient units that burn natural gas, with the option to someday use biomass and wood, according to plans filed with the state.

SVMC has applied for a “certificate of need” from the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB), the state’s health care regulatory board, which must approve major healthcare projects. The board held a public hearing in Montpelier on Oct. 27 that a handful of hospital officials attended, according to the board’s website.

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[EXCLUSIVE] The Future of Biomass Energy in Vermont

– by Josh Schlossberg, October 14, 2016, The Vermont Independent

Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) aims for a statewide transition to ninety percent renewable energy by 2050 while “virtually eliminating reliance on oil.”

To help reach these goals, the state seeks to cut energy consumption by fifteen percent by 2015 and by over one-third by 2050 through efficiency and conservation measures.

Within ten years Vermont hopes to procure twenty-five percent of its energy from renewables, with forty percent by 2035. For 2025, the breakdown would include sixty-seven percent renewable electricity, thirty percent renewable heating, and ten percent renewable transportation fuels.

A significant component of renewable energy would come from bioenergy, mostly sourced from forests, with a small percentage of agricultural crops such as willow and grasses.

The CEP outlines eight principles to guide the further development of bioenergy in the state.

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[OPINION] Helping Low-Income Vermonters Heat with Wood

[Read the opposing view, “Montpelier, Vermont’s Biomass Heating Facility Nothing to Celebrate,” by Willem Post, Consulting Engineer.]

– by Jessie-Ruth Corkins, Operations Director, Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative

The Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative (VSHI) is a small non-profit based out of northern Vermont, started by myself and other eager young students and teachers. We have helped 25 Vermont families on state fuel assistance transition to wood pellet heating and advocated for smart decisions regarding the long term sustainability of Vermont’s forest resources within a comprehensive renewable energy plan for Vermont.

VSHI was formed in 2008, just after many Vermont high schools had transitioned to woodchip heating. As a student at the time, I was motivated by the dreadful effects of climate change, and an understanding that transitioning more of Vermont’s infrastructure to wood heating presented both a solution and a challenge for the long term sustainability of our state’s forests. Could we heat more homes, businesses and schools in Vermont with wood? And who would advocate for our low-income neighbors who are forced to make tough decisions to stay warm during the winter?

Historically in Vermont and today, in places all around the world (for example Haiti), economics and lack of planning have caused severe forest resource depletion. Our Green Mountain state was once significantly cleared for pasture land and timber. And in the last 10 years multiple proposals have been on the table to use Vermont’s forests for more energy production, but deciding which proposal makes the best sense remains the question.

The Biomass Energy Resource Center published numbers in 2011 stating the available wood from our forests that could be harvested annually and remain a sustainable output long-term is roughly 2,000,000 green tons/year. Currently we are harvesting about ½ our capacity and could increase harvesting by 900,000 tons/year. To put that in perspective, that’s ½ cord of wood per person in Vermont, which doesn’t equal much heat per person, given Vermont winters.

Use of wood in the 21st century is complex but meaningful. With invasive species and many of ways to turn wood into energy, deciding the scale and type of energy output that makes sense for Vermonters moving forward is a fundamental question. VSHI does not support electricity generation from wood given the energy lost during conversion, and because turning Vermont’s limited wood supply into electricity would not reduce anyone’s electric rates. Instead we advocate for wood pellet production through small co-operatives around the state. Wood pellets are an easy to use and safe alternative to firewood and often make sense in low-income households. Transitioning more low-income Vermont homes to wood pellet heating would reduce the burden for monetary fuel assistance in Vermont.

Finally, while I support the Vermont Public Service Department’s work to advance wood heating technologies in Vermont—specifically though grants to schools and municipal buildings—they are missing a sub-set of Vermonters who can’t afford the transition to greener heating on their own. I encourage the Clean Energy Development Fund (a subset of the Vermont Public Service Department) to partner with Vermont’s Fuel Assistance Office and other key players to encourage Vermont-scale pellet production and invest in transitioning more homes in Vermont to wood pellet heating within the finite limits of the resource.

Jessie-Ruth Corkins is Operations Director of Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to the establishment of affordability and sustainability in Vermont’s home heating economy.

[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.

[OPINION] Montpelier, Vermont’s Biomass Heating Facility Nothing to Celebrate

[Read the opposing view, “Helping Low-Income Vermonters Heat With Wood,” by Jessie-Ruth Corkins, Operations Director, Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative.]

– by Willem Post, Consulting Engineer

The Montpelier District Heating Plant is a joint project of the City of Montpelier and the State of Vermont to provide local renewable energy to downtown Montpelier. With the rebuilding of the State’s existing central heating plant, modern wood-fired boilers will heat the Capitol Complex and connections will be put in place to expand its service area to City and School buildings as well as connect to private buildings in downtown Montpelier.

Before renovation, the heating plant was fired with only No. 2 fuel oil to produce steam to heat state office buildings. After renovation, the heating plant is fired with about 85% wood chips and about 15% No. 2 fuel oil, and a hot water distribution loop was added to heat other buildings.

The claimed benefits of the renovated plant include:

Reduced health threatening air emissions from fuel combustion in downtown Montpelier by as much as 11 tons per year.

As will be shown, that claim is invalid,

Replacement of approximately 300,000 gallons of oil per year between the State and downtown buildings as a prime fuel source with locally/regionally produced wood chips keeping that economic activity in the northeast.

As will be shown, that claim is only partially valid, as about 15% of the plant heat input from No. 2 fuel oil continues to be required.

Fuel cost stabilization for city government and the school department allowing tax dollars to potentially be redirected toward services or infrastructure rather than to pay rising oil prices.

As will be shown, those savings are due to significantly undercharging for the heating services, i.e., the plant is operating at a significant loss.

An economic development opportunity in downtown Montpelier by providing a cleaner and potentially cheaper source of heat for private building owners.

Whenever one group of people get a benefit, another group has to pay for it, i.e., contrary to claims, there is no free lunch.

The removal of many private oil furnaces and underground fuel oil storage tanks from potential flood areas.

A minor side benefit from a $20 million project.

An analysis of the operating costs and emissions of the plant shows:

– The rates at which heat is charged to building owners are much too low, i.e., the plant is operated at a significant loss of $400,000 – $450,000/yr. This excludes any financing and depreciation costs.

– The CO2 emissions with a mix of wood chip/fuel oil are about 4,446 ton/yr versus about 3,699 ton/yr with 100% fuel oil, an increase of about 447 ton/yr.

– The emissions other than CO2 increased from about 5.72 ton/yr (100% No. 2 fuel oil) to about 11.92 ton/yr, an increase of 6.2 ton/yr.

– The particulate matter, PM, increased from about 121.8 lb/yr (100% No. 2 fuel oil) to about 910.8 lb/yr (15% No.2 fuel oil/85% wood chips), an increase of about 7.5 times; most of that PM is harmful PM2.5, which is difficult to collect with electrostatic precipitators.

If this were a private, unsubsidized project, servicing a loan of $20,000,000 at 3% interest/yr for 40 years, the annual payments would be $865,247.56/yr.

The economics of this project are dismal and the plant emits significantly more CO2 and particulate matter, PM, than heating with fuel oil; a perfect example of:

– The state’s wasteful meddling that is making less efficient Vermont’s energy sector, thereby adversely affecting Vermont’s future economic growth, job creation and standards of living.

– Politicians and various renewable energy interests banding together to improve re-election prospects and feather their renewable energy nests at the expense of the rest of Vermonters, who get taxed extra by these same politicians to pay for it all.

– More such politics-inspired, uneconomic wood chip plants in Vermont would be another, multi-decade headwind for Vermont’s fragile, near-zero-growth economy.

Despite press releases crowing of “success,” there is nothing to celebrate having such wood chip plants. District heating systems are based on bygone technology, which has been surpassed by modern building envelope and building system design since about 1973, more than 40 years ago.

[Read the un-excerpted piece at Energy Collective.]

Willem Post is a consulting engineer and project manager specializing in energy efficiency of buildings and building systems. He has performed feasibility studies, wrote master plans, evaluated and performed designs for incineration systems, air pollution control systems, utility and industrial power plants, and integrated energy systems for campus-style building complexes. 

[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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