Russell Biomass scores water permit

By Anna Austin | April 23, 2012

Russell Biomass LLC has received a Clean Water Act permit for its proposed biomass cogeneration plant in Russell, Mass., but the company isn’t certain when it will be able to begin construction.

The wood-fired facility will withdraw from and discharge into the adjacent Westfield River. After a rigorous, science-based review, U.S. EPA concluded that the final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the proposed facility meets the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. It becomes valid as of July 1.

Originally, the company’s proposal was to build a stand-alone, 50 MW biomass power plant, but it modified its plans when the state revised its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) regulations to require 40 percent minimum efficiency for Class I Renewable Generation Units. Now the project will also heat an 80-acre greenhouse, but like many other developers in the state, the project is dependent on the final regulations, which were released April 27, a full nine monts later than expected. The proposed final regulations increased the 40 percent efficiency mandate to 50 percent.

If construction were to begin, the project could create up to 150 jobs in the area.