A partner in a company hoping to build two wood-fired power plants in Vermont says the company isn't going to file the applications this year to build its proposed 30-megawatt wood-burning power plant in Pownal because of local opposition to the project.
Instead, Beaver Wood Energy partner Bill Bousquet said the company would focus this year on a project in Fair Haven.
"Because the people in Fair Haven are 100 percent toward this plant, and the people of Pownal have mixed feelings about the plant, so it's much easier to go ahead with Fair Haven this year," Bousquet said on Wednesday night at a panel discussion at Bennington College on how the two plants might affect the region's forests, air, water and communities.
Bousquet said lawmakers have been going back and forth on whether to include biomass projects in state incentive programs for renewable energy.
Beaver Wood is hoping to build biomass electricity generation plants and wood-pellet fuel facilities in Pownal and Fair Haven at a cost of about $250 million each.
At the same meeting, experts discussed a study which found the potential for producing sustainable power from New England's forests to be less likely than some earlier projections.
Bennington College Ecology Professor Kerry Woods said it was the best research he'd seen on the topic.
"Biomass-driven power generation, yes, probably has an appropriate place in the mix for the northeast," Woods said. "But it's important to realize that the potential there is probably considerably less than people have come to think. They say the figure was replacing 5 percent of the coal burned, a relatively small proportion."
Dick Valentinetti, Vermont's director of air pollution control, said his department had received an air quality permit application from Beaver Wood.
"It's a good application, but I still have some questions about some technical aspects. Have they really pushed the envelope as far as they should be on some of these pollution controls? he said.
Vermont Public Radio reports that Valentinetti said monitoring the two biomass generating plants already in the state has kept regulators current on anti-pollution technology