Mass. to Get First Community-Owned Biodiesel Plant

John Davis

nebiodieselMassachusetts is on the verge of getting its first community-owned biodiesel plant. This article from Public News Service says the Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield will open in early 2016.

Co-op Power CEO Lynn Benander says the plant will take cooking oil waste from restaurants, schools and institutions in the area and convert it into millions of gallons of a clean source of energy that works in both vehicles and for heating homes.

“The way that biodiesel is clean is that it cuts the carbon emissions by 86 percent, cuts down particulate emissions over diesel fuel,” she explains. “So, it is a clean alternative to the fossil fuels that we are using to stay warm and get around.”

Benander says the Northeast Biodiesel Plant in Greenfield is not the first refinery of this type in the region, but it will be the first that is locally owned. She says a big reason that Co-op Power got involved in the project was that there was very little access to this type of clean fuel in the region.

Isaac Baker, director of Community Shared Solar programs at Co-op Power, says there were opportunities to allow outside investors to get involved in the project, but co-op officials decided it made more sense to keep the investment local. He says those outside investors would have limited community control.

“Someone might decide to go and sell the asset to a foreign company, where we would have no control over who was receiving the lowest cost benefit, or whether or not the plant was just shut down,” he explains. “So, that’s what the cooperative brings.”