Pownal Vermont is the proposed home of a 29 MW biomass plant and wood pellet facility. Like Vernon, home of Vermont Yankee, Pownal is in southern Vermont, close to the Massachusetts border. Pownal is in the western half of Vermont, near New York State, while Vernon is in the eastern half, near New Hampshire.
People in Pownal and neighboring Massachusetts are vigorously protesting the biomass plant. About eighteen protesters recently lined the road to the proposed plant (there's a great picture in that link). At meetings in local churches, groups against biomass have described many possible hazards, including:
- biomass plants used as incinerators
- biomass plants starting fires in neighboring areas
- particulate from biomass escaping the very best scrubbers, and lodging in people's lungs
A biomass opposition website contains extensive information about the hazards of biomass, along with specific ideas on how to fight this plant. Plant opponents also attack the safety record of the company proposing to build the plant.
If the company breaks ground for the plant before the end of the year, the developers may be eligible for $50 to $80 million in federal grants. Naturally, plant opponents are eager to slow them down. As Vermont Digger reports: Pownal resident Doreen Forney said she wants to see the process slowed. “At least be thorough with your investigation of this company,” she said. However, it is not just this company that is the problem. Vermont Digger reports that Rachel Smolker of Biofuel Watch Group states that “Big oil sees this (biomass) as a way out of their oil dilemma...There are a lot of powers at play here,””
Still, some local residents want the plant. Others feel that biomass money should be used for solar and wind power instead.
Why does this all sound so very familiar?
I give thanks that I don't plan to investigate the pros and cons of this biomass plant.
It is interesting to observe yet more excitement about power plants on the Vermont/Massachusetts border. That is why I decided to blog about this protest. But I'm not going any further with this.
For electric power production, I prefer heat engines based on nuclear fission. I'm going to leave it at that.