Invests in Biodiesel Plant
With funds from a cooperative that includes Smith College,
Northeast Biodiesel Company recently purchased 26.5 acres
in Greenfield to construct a plant that will convert vegetable
oil to fuel.
The governing board for Co-op Power voted unanimously this
month to buy the land with funds from investors and the purchase
was finalized Wednesday, Oct. 3.
When it is built, the $5.85 million plant will turn used
vegetable oil into a fuel that can be used in heating systems
and diesel vehicles such as school buses, snowplows and trucks.
Biodiesel “is an essential element in the mix of renewable
energy sources we’ll need as we transition to a cleaner
energy future,” said David Biddle, chair of the governing
board for the Co-op.
Co-op Power’s 276 members own 63 percent of Northeast
Biodiesel Company. Traditionally, investors in such
a project would be paid off in three to five years with the
sale of the company. In the case of Northeast Biodiesel Company,
the Co-op Power members will receive their investment back
after 10 years, turning over ownership to plant employees
Other Co-op members include
Snow’s Ice Cream, River
Valley Market, Smith Vocational High School, Diemand Farm,
Full Boom Farm, East Heaven Hot Tubs and individuals throughout
Western Massachusetts. Greenfields Market, the consumer-owned
food cooperative, is also an investor. “It meant a
lot to us to have such great support from our sister cooperative
in town,” said Lynn Benander, manager of Co-op Power.
Northeast Biodiesel Company and Co-op Power are also working
with Greenfield Community College to train people interested
in working at the plant. Coursework will cover chemistry,
biodiesel fuel production and handling, worker-ownership
rights and responsibilities, safety standards and sustainable