End of the Road for Greenfield, MA Biomass Incinerator


Contact: Janet Sinclair 413-625-2886 / 413-478-4333

Concerned Citizens of Franklin County Greenfield, MA

July 18, 2013 

The plaintiffs appealing the Greenfield, MA Zoning Board decision to grant a Special Permit for a 47 Megawatt biomass power plant filed a request in the Franklin Superior Court to annul the permit. The request for the Final Judgment came after Cambridge, MA based Matthew Wolfe of Pioneer Renewable Energy allowed a July 16, 2013 deadline to pass.  The plaintiffs and the developer had agreed that if an amended permit was not submitted to the Greenfield Planning Board by the deadline, the permit would be annulled. 

The permit was issued in July 22, 2009. 450 people attended the permit hearings. Most who spoke were against the project, expressing concerns including questions about the wood supply and negative health and environmental impacts. 

The project would have burned 600,000 tons of wood each year at the Industrial Park in north Greenfield. The Zoning Board unanimously to approved the plan.

The need for an amended permit resulted from a citizen appeal of a Town Council decision to sell waste water to cool the power plant. Mr. Wolfe withdrew that part of his plan just weeks before the June 2010 vote, declaring the vote a moot point, but the voters decided by an 84% margin to overturn the Town Council decision.

The zoning appeal languished in the court while all sides agreed to wait for the new Massachusetts biomass regulations to become finalized. Those regulations were issued in August, 2012, and placed stricter standards for biomass power generators to receive state subsidies. In March, 2013, all parties in the lawsuit agreed on the July date for the developer to finalize his plans with the town with an amended permit using dry cooling, or the permit would be annulled.

Volunteer group Concerned Citizens of Franklin County along with volunteer regional experts fought the project since it was first proposed.

Greenfield businessman Lenny Weeks, whose large outdoor signs at Tire Warehouse on Federal St. provided biomass updates and a place to sign petitions said, "I am proud to be a citizen of a community that really pulled together over the years in our battle with biomass. I saw all walks of life show up and voice their opinions."

For Weeks' son, Jesse, the news is a relief. "For the last four and a half years, the people of Greenfield and neighboring towns have lived under the specter of an industrial sized biomass incinerator- an anxiety and reality which settled like a pall over all our homes and happiness."