Proposed Fair Haven energy center would bring 300 jobs - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Proposed Fair Haven energy center would bring 300 jobs

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"Our pellet plant would be by far the most efficient pellet plant in the country-- biomass plant the same," said Tom Emero of Beaver Wood Energy.

Emero is fired up about the proposed energy center in Fair Haven. After recently announcing a partnership with Vermont Hydroponics, the original biomass plant is turning into a massive four-part project. The project began as a 30-megawatt biomass-fired power plant and pellet manufacturer, and is now a proposed energy center integrating a 10-acre greenhouse and Grower's Hub.

"It is a state-of-the-art, renewable energy project," Emero said.

The biomass plant and pellet manufacturer will utilize wasted materials from harvesting operations, including logging. The greenhouse will be next to the plant, connected through a series of pipes for heating. Emero says that manufacturing power generates a large amount of warm water and low-grade steam, which he says is perfect for keeping a greenhouse warm.

"What that biomass plant affords us would be a lower cost heat, which would allow us to be competitive some of the other big growers that have the climate on their side down in Mexico for instance or Arizona," said Jeff Jones of Vermont Hydroponics.

The project will be located just off Route 4. And Emero says there is already space to build a ramp-- one that will provide an entire exit strictly for the use of the biomass plant.

Jones says the location will be a huge benefit for the final part of the project, the Grower's Hub. Developed by Vermont Hydroponic, Grower's Hub is a web-based ordering site that facilitates large chain stores to order produce from small regional growers.

"With Grower's Hub we band a bunch of growers together from the same region and allow a buyer from say Price Chopper, or Stop & Shop or Whole Foods to look at that site, order what they need and then swing a truck up around to pick it up in one location," Jones explained.

Emero says the project will create over 300 jobs-- 50 in the plant and pellet manufacturer, 75 in the greenhouse and 150 in related forest product jobs. The project will cost an estimated $200 million.

The project still needs permits. Developers say once construction starts it will take about two years.

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