In 2009, a developer announced plans to construct the North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project, a 35-megawatt wood-fired electricity generating plant. Because of the scale of the project, VNRC intervened in the case, along with National Wildlife Federation, to ensure that the proposed project would safeguard forest health, use our forest resources efficiently, and not unduly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
In February 2014, the Public Service Board (PSB) issued a precedent-setting decision denying a permit for the proposed project. In the decision, the Board ruled that the expected greenhouse gas emissions of the plant (448,714 tons of CO2 per year), in tandem with the project’s low level of thermal efficiency, would not promote the general good of the state.
The Board’s ruling helped to create statewide precedent and provide a roadmap for the sustainable and efficient utilization of woody biomass. Any proposed future project for electricity generation will likely have to perform carbon accounting and demonstrate how it meets Vermont’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction target goals, in addition to implementing adequate wood procurement policies to address forest health.