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Growth of wood biomass power stokes concern on emissions

Across the U.S., companies are planning scores of projects to burn trees and wood waste to produce electricity, claiming such biomass plants can be carbon-neutral. But critics contend that combusting wood is not really a form of green energy and are urging a go-slow approach until clear guidelines can be established.

Source:  Copyright 2011, Environment 360
Date:  February 11, 2011
Byline:  Dave Levitan
Original URL: Status ONLINE

It seems modest, as power plants go -- a 29-megawatt facility, situated just north of the Vermont-Massachusetts line, that will burn woody biomass to generate enough power for 25,000 to 30,000 homes. But like many proposed plants in the recently reborn biomass power industry -- a supposedly renewable and clean energy source -- the Vermont project is encountering significant opposition.

“We live in a wooded, hilly part of New England, so it’s easy to sweep your arm around and say, ‘Look at all these trees. How can there not be enough biomass to operate this plant?’” says Charley Stevenson, co-director of a citizens group in the area that is opposing the plant. “But when you start to look at the scale of the proposed plant, the answer to that becomes less clear.”

The Pownal plant, one of two that Beaver Wood Energy has proposed in Vermont, faces the types of concerns confronting the entire industry. Biomass proponents have long claimed the power source can ...

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