STATUS: In progress, with opposition
OPPOSITION: Concerned Citizens of Russell
BACKGROUND: The project features a $165 million 50-megawatt power plant that would generate energy from waste wood and provide at least $600,000 annually in tax revenues. Russell Biomass predicts that the project will create 50 local area jobs as well as 200 jobs in the fuel supply and transportation sectors. In addition, operation and maintenance would create about 22 permanent, high-paying jobs. The permitting process was initiated at the local and state level in 2005 and construction was slated to commence in the summer of 2010 and finish in two years.
The developers initially planned to begin construction in late 2008 and have a fully operational plant completed by 2010, but the project has encountered delays due to opposition. The Concerned Citizens of Russell has been fighting the project for several years. The group received a grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund in November of 2008 to prevent the construction of the plant. It asserts that the plant will have negative traffic and environmental impacts. It also disapproves of the plant’s location due to its proximity to neighborhoods and the elementary school.
Russell FIRST!, a project advocacy group, is making efforts to draw support from Russell residents and has collected 50 signatures thus far on their petition “to see this project completed in the near future.”
SOURCES: The Russell Biomass Power Plant http://www.russellbiomass.com/theplant/;
The Republican http://www.masslive.com/chicopeeholyoke/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-21/1244877387322420.xml&coll=1;
Massachusetts Local News http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/06/petition_supports_russell_biom
Last updated November 17, 2010