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March 27, 2017

Stored Solar planning greenhouses next to biomass plant

Stored Solar, which acquired Covanta Energy's two closed biomass power plants in Maine last fall, is looking into establishing greenhouses next to the West Enfield plant to grow peppers and providing a new source of revenue that would make the generator profitable.

The Portland Press Herald reported that Stored Solar signed a letter of intent with Nature Fresh Farms of Leamington, Ontario, one of Canada's largest independent greenhouse produce growers, to build up to 60 acres of greenhouses in West Enfield.

William Harrington, Stored Solar's director, told the Press Herald the company also is talking to a shrimp farm venture.

Covanta Energy's biomass power plants in West Enfield and Jonesboro closed a year ago, resulting in the loss of 44 jobs at those facilities as well as important markets for low-grade wood and waste wood left over from pulp and paper manufacturing and sawmills. Covanta was subsequently purchased by Stored Solar, a subsidiary of the French energy firm Capergy.

PUC looking into slow payments to loggers

Meanwhile, the Bangor Daily News reported that the Maine Public Utilities Commission sent a letter last week asking Harrington for "an immediate update on the operational and financial status of the West Enfield and Jonesboro facilities and the status of any payment obligation to suppliers, contractors or employees."

The PUC's action followed allegations by the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine that some its loggers had not been paid by Stored Solar for deliveries of biomass since early February.

Dana Doran, executive director of the PLC, told the BDN loggers had stopped delivering to the West Enfield and Jonesboro facilities due to the alleged nonpayments. The BDN reported that Harrington declined comment.

In December, the PUC split $13.4 million in state subsidies between the state's other biomass power company, ReEnergy Holdings, and Stored Solar as part of a stop-gap plan approved by the 127th Legislature to assist Maine's struggling loggers, who had been hit hard by paper mill closures and the Covanta closures.

Lawmakers authorized two-year contracts at above-market rates to buy time for Maine's biomass power plants, which lost above-rate payments for their electricity when Massachusetts changed its Renewable Portfolio Standard policy to require greater efficiency than standalone plants can easily deliver. In effect, Massachusetts penalized plants that generate only electricity without capturing the heat that's produced.

Read more

Potential investor withdraws $5M loan offer to biomass company

Status of Stored Solar biomass plants uncertain

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