Editorial: Breathe easier
Those who saw little good coming from a proposed wood-burning energy plant in Greenfield can breathe easier now.
Last week, a deadline for amending the special permit application for the Pioneer Renewable Energy biomass electric generator came and went, leading opponents of the plant to petition Franklin County Superior Court for a final judgment that will annul the permit granted four years ago.
Truth be told, though, this controversial project was dead long before this.
We have long thought that the date of death for the project of Matthew Wolfe, the principal for Madera Energy, came about roughly two years ago when the state unveiled its revised regulations for qualifying for Renewable Energy Credits under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Those new standards, finalized in 2012, require all wood-burning biomass plants to generate power at minimum 50 percent efficiency to receive one half of a renewable energy credit (REC), and 60 percent efficiency to receive one full REC. Before these revisions to the regulations, plants were required to operate at 25 percent efficiency.
“The regs they came out with would not allow for the project to qualify for RECs in Massachusetts. It’s been pretty clear all along that without those RECs, this project doesn’t move forward. In order to qualify, there would have to be changes to the project, if the project could qualify at all,” Wolfe said. “In order for there to be changes, we would have to go before the different permitting agencies with something different than what was originally considered.”
When did Wolfe come to this realization is the real question here.
And while Madera Energy still has the option on the I-91 Industrial Park property, that, too, may just be a matter of time.
Or, perhaps, Wolfe’s energy development firm would be interested in building an anaerobic digestion operation there. As the state has recently announced, it is making money available for building these facilities that take food waste and turn it into energy. It’s just a thought.