Massachusetts Sawmill’s Planned Biomass Plant Met With Opposition

A long-planned wood-gasification plant for Roberts Brothers Lumber Co. has drawn fire from dozens of residents around the region, even though the business says it has no firm plans at this time for the project for which it has received hundreds of thousands of federal and state dollars. The project, which the company has described […]

A long-planned wood-gasification plant for Roberts Brothers Lumber Co. has drawn fire from dozens of residents around the region, even though the business says it has no firm plans at this time for the project for which it has received hundreds of thousands of federal and state dollars.

The project, which the company has described in the past as a 2-megawatt, $8-million cogeneration plant to power its sawmill and provide heat for its drying kiln, was the target of concern by 79 residents from around the region who mailed a letter to U.S. Rep. Richard Neal on May 11 in anticipation of what they said was a planned May 18 meeting with representatives of the 71-year-old forest products business.

But owner Leonard Roberts and spokesman Evan Dell’Olio — who is also described as vice president of Roberts Energy Renewables, a “sister” corporation formed in 2011 — say the meeting with the Springfield congressman was planned to talk about the region’s agricultural issues.

Roberts, who is president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau, said, “We’re trying to advocate for agriculture here in Franklin County because more farms are closing and dairy farmers are under dire straits because of milk prices right now. That’s why we were trying to get them all together.”

But the meeting, which was also to have included state Reps. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, was canceled at the last minute “due to changing schedules,” according to Neal spokesman William Tranghese. He added that meeting “to discuss a local energy project,” would be rescheduled through talks that are ongoing.

Read more on this from the Daily Hampshire Gazette at http://www.gazettenet.com/b1–Roberts-Brothers-biomass-project-draws-fire-from-residents-18140855.

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