The Mountain Times

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Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center adds greenhouses and local growers hub

Hundreds of jobs will be created for Vermonters

Rutland County will become home to a renewable energy-powered, year-round local food growing and wholesale 'Grower's Hub' under an agreement announced by Beaver Wood Energy and Vermont Hydroponics recently. The plan promises to add 300 new jobs to the area - 25 jobs at the biomass power plant, 25 jobs at the pellet manufacturing facility, 100 jobs at the greenhouses and Grower's Hub and another 150 jobs in the forest industry.

Under the plan, Vermont Hydroponics, headquartered in Florence, Vt., will build a 10-acre greenhouse complex adjacent to the proposed Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center.   Using low-grade steam, waste heat and waste water from the biomass power plant, Vermont Hydroponics plans to grow tomatoes and other vegetables year-round.

"Our current Vermont business is ready to grow, to takeoff really," said Middlebury resident and managing partner of Vermont Hydroponics Jeff Jones. "By partnering with a renewable energy facility, we can turn low grade heat, which has little usefulness to the power or pellet manufacturing facility into our affordable energy. This is a great chance to grow our closed-loop, completely sustainable and renewable local food model," he added.

Vermont Hydroponics will also site an expansion of their Growers Hub service at the Energy Center.  Grower's Hub is the company's innovative, high-tech system that brokers the sale and transfer of locally grown food from smaller, independent growers to buyers from large grocery stores all over the North East. Supermarket chain, 'Price Chopper', is a current Grower's Hub customer.

"The Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center will be one of the most efficient and innovative facilities in the nation," says Tom Emero from Beaver Wood Energy. "We are proud to announce formal plans to bring together into one sustainable business system local energy, local heat, and local food. It is truly a remarkable opportunity that promises good paying jobs to hundreds of people," he added.

The proposed Fair Haven Biomass Energy Center now includes:
Clean Energy Production:  A state-of-the art 30MW biomass power converting sustainably harvested local waste wood into enough locally produced, base-load power for 34,000 homes.
Wood Pellet Production: A wood-pellet manufacturing business that recycles thermal energy from the power plant to make enough clean pellets to heat 27,000 homes.
Greenhouse Farm and Grower's Hub: A 10-acre greenhouse complex allowing a major business expansion for Vermont Hydroponic's.

"This is a huge economic development opportunity for our town and our region. We need the good-paying, green economy jobs promised by the Fair Haven Energy Center," said Claire Stanley. "We now look to our state for their leadership in making this big opportunity happen."