Winstanley Enterprises of Concord, Mass., has formally notified local officials of its plan to apply for a Certificate of Public Good to build a 25 to 35 megawatt renewable woodchip-burning electric generating plant at its existing industrial site located in North Springfield. The filing plan was announced on Monday in a letter from Chan Morgan, the project’s manager, to local officials. The Winstanley development team is targeting early October to file its petition with the Public Service Board. Winstanley Enterprises is a highly regarded New England developer with a history of investing in Vermont dating to 1991. Winstanley developed the Exit 1 Industrial Park in Brattleboro bringing the primary tenant, Country Kitchen Breads, to the state; successfully redeveloped and fully leased the 165,000 sq. ft. Northeast Cooperative/United Foods building also in Brattleboro; and renovated North Springfield’s ‘new’ Fellows Gear Shaper facility, which at 375,000 sq. ft. is one of the largest single story buildings in Vermont. The Fellows facility at 36 Precision Drive in the North Springfield Industrial Park was vacant when purchased in 2006 and today is nearly fully leased to three important local employers, Jeld-Wen, Kiosko and ADI, who collectively employ approximately 250 people. ‘After four years of planning, meeting with local and state officials and commissioning numerous studies focused on fuel availability, environmental impacts, traffic patterns and economic benefits, Adam Winstanley is pleased to now be taking this important first step toward making this project a reality,’ Morgan said. The project will infuse between $130 and $180 million of investment capital into the Springfield-Chester region, generating an average of 256 jobs for the proposed two years of construction and roughly 100 ongoing jobs valued at $2 million annually, not including those associated with additional business park activity. The plant is projected to add roughly $9 million annually to the state’s economy, promote sustainable forestry in the Southern Vermont region and enhance Springfield’s ability to attract employers to the industrial park. One compelling aspect of the Winstanley project is the plan to build a hot water loop that will provide low-cost heat to the park. The concept of providing the thermal loop has already created interest among potential new business park tenants and will also provide impetus for current tenants to maintain and possibly expand their operations in North Springfield. Bob Flint, executive director of the Springfield Regional Development Corporation said that this is a far-reaching economic development project for the region and the state. ‘This project will impact our economy in so many ways from our heritage foresters fueling an important and practical use of alternative energy to providing operational infrastructure that will lead to job growth in an existing industrial park,’ Flint said. ‘It’s a home run.’ If approved, the plant would provide a minimum of 25 megawatts of base load power capacity by early 2014. The output would be delivered to Vermont utilities through an existing on-site substation that once connected the North Springfield Fellows Gear Shaper building to the electric grid. In addition, the site has been in industrial use since 1968, was already graded level many years ago in anticipation of future growth, and provides an unparalleled opportunity to optimize the efficiency of the wood burning plant by being located in an industrial park that can utilize its thermal waste. As well, the site is located in the region of Vermont with the highest concentration of Net Available Low Grade Wood according to the 2010 BERC Vermont Wood Study Report and would allow the plant to provide a local market for wood that is currently either not being harvested for the benefit of the forest or is being transported out of the region. The delivery of Winstanley’s notice letter to the Town Select Boards of Springfield and Chester and to the South Windsor County Regional Planning Commission formally commences the work to prepare the project’s Section 248 petition with the Public Service Board. During this period, the Winstanley development team will continue to reach out to the towns and to make themselves available for answering questions and addressing all suggestions and concerns with subject area experts. The Section 248 petition filing process is designed to ensure that any electrical generation or pipeline project is fully vetted from the perspective of the public good by an independent quasi-judicial body. Winstanley Enterprises and its development team look forward to working through this process and ultimately developing a successful project that will benefit not only the region but all of Vermont. Winstanley Enterprises will develop the project through its local subsidiary, WE 36 Precision Drive. David Winstanley formed Winstanley Associates in 1973. Two decades later, founded on his success in real estate development and investment, David joined forces with his sons, Adam and Carter, to form what is now Winstanley Enterprises LLC. The company also successfully redeveloped the former Northeast Cooperative/United Natural Foods property in Brattleboro, and more than 35 additional properties throughout New England. For more information about the company, please visit its web site at http://winent.com(link is external).
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