Three large-scale woody biomass electricity generating plants are in the Massachusetts permit process, representing 135 megawatts (MW):
- Russell Biomass on the Westfield River (50 MW, Russell, MA)
- Pioneer Renewable Energy on the Deerfield River (47 MW, Greenfield, MA)
- Palmer Renewable Energy (38 MW, Springfield, MA)
Mass Environmental Energy Alliance reports that at 135 MW, the combined generation capacity of the three plants, would constitute less than 1% of the state’s electric generation capacity.
In Springfield Massachusetts, DEP will hold a public hearing for a proposed 38 Megawatt (MW) electric power plant on December 2.
The Comment period is open until Friday for written concerns. You can add your voice for environmental justice as one of ORI’s letters to the DEP.
Palmer Renewable Energy (Palmer) intends to burn both construction and demolition (C&D) debris material and “green wood.” Palmer plans to skip the MEPA environmental impact review process by having C&D fuel processed (chipped-up) at a facility. This Provisional Beneficial Use Determination (BUD) permits combustion of “painted wood,” “manufactured wood products” and up to nine tons per day of non-wood materials. On site fuel sampling occurs only at the startup of operations and after “approximately one year of operation.” Approximately 325 tractor-trailer trucks per week will deliver fuel, 700 tons per day or 255,500 tons per year, through the mixed use/residential neighborhood of Springfield. Only 5% of the 20-ton trucks supplying fuel will be inspected.
Adding insult to injury Palmer Renewable Energy is being promoted and subsidized by the state as “clean” energy. Yet, the facility will be in violation of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (2008) because they do not take measures to reduce carbon emissions. The state has failed to consider three greenhouse gas emissions impacts: sorting, transporting, and combusting the C&D-derived fuel. The project undermines efforts to reduce construction debris, and to reuse and recycle without releasing of carbon into the atmosphere.
This is an environmental justice issue where ambient air levels of hazardous pollutants will not be monitored because the area is already thick with industry. Palmer Generator is to be built at 1000 Page Blvd about one thousand feet from Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop. Springfield citizens already endure asthma and elevated childhood blood lead levels at rates twice the state average.
To bring attention to this environmental justice issue outside voices are needed. Your more distant voice will legitimate and bring urgency to cleaning up our environments in all communities.