Activists oppose wood-burning power plant

PLAINFIELD, CONNECTICUT - Environmental groups said that the state Department of Environmental Protection should not issue permits for a proposed wood-burning power plant in eastern Connecticut, saying the plant would be a health hazard because it would use construction and demolition waste.

"Take a look. This is lead paint. How is someone going to sort this out?" asked Roger Smith, campaign director for the Connecticut chapter of Clean Water Action, as he held a piece of demolition waste during a press conference in Hartford.

The target of the complaints was Plainfield Renewable Energy, a plant planned for Plainfield that would burn wood to make electricity. The plant is awaiting air and water permits from the DEP.

The state Department of Public Utility Control is considering providing the plant with ratepayer-funded incentives under a Connecticut Clean Energy Fund program to promote renewable and clean energy.

"It's absurd that a power plant could emit 7,200 pounds a year of lead and 1,400 pounds per year of arsenic and be considered a clean energy source," said Christopher Phelps of Environment Connecticut.

The developer of the plant dismissed the complaints, saying they arose from misinformation being spread by a competing wood-to-electricity project, also proposed for eastern Connecticut. The Plainfield plant will meet all DEP requirements for emissions, with only low levels of the substances that concern environmentalists being released, said Daniel Donovan, vice president of Plainfield Renewable Energy.

"This is very much renewable," Donovan said. "On the air emissions side, there is not an issue. It is being trumped up."

A spokesman for the DEP said employees are reviewing the plant's permit applications, but couldn't provide a timetable for when the department would make a decision. Both Donovan and the environmental groups believe the DEP is close to making a decision on the plant, which applied for its permits 14 months ago.


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