Smith College Admission Academics Student Life About Smith news Offices
Five College Calendar
Smith eDigest
Submit an Idea
News Archive
News Publications
Planning an Event
Contact Us
News & Events

Smith 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 and consumers.

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 energy.

10/5/07   By Kristen Cole
DirectoryCalendarCampus MapVirtual TourContact UsSite A-Z