Health Board Nears Approval of Food Waste-to-Energy Plant

City environmental attorney Michael Leon makes a suggestion as Health Board Chairman Carl F. Rosenbloom listens. (WHAV News photograph.)

Vanguard Renewables' William Jorgenson and John Hanselman walk the site with neighbors.

Vanguard Renewables’ William Jorgenson and John Hanselman walked the site with neighbors last September. (WHAV News photograph.)

The Haverhill Board of Health all but approved plans Tuesday to locate a food waste-to-energy plant at a Ward Hill farm.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has not yet issued regulations for the anaerobic digester operation at Crescent Farm, 1058 Boston Road. However, during a public hearing, board members said they expect to issue a final site assignment in time for the developers to ink a deal to sell electricity to the city. As of this week, a third of the financial credits available to developers have been taken by other groups. City environmental attorney Michael A. Leon suggested time is of the essence.

“There seems to be some urgency that the city is not going to execute the power purchase agreement until this assignment process is done.”

The city will buy electricity, initially at 13 cents-per-kilowatt hour and then the rate increases one percent annually. Farm owner C. Michael “Mike” Davidowicz plans to use the anaerobic digester, developed by Vanguard Renewables of Wellesley, to capture naturally occurring methane gas and use it to fuel a generator producing a megawatt of electricity. Byproducts of the process will be used as natural fertilizer. The plant will be set back away from the property line in a low area behind a barn and a driveway. The entrance will be paved to eliminate dust generated from farm and other vehicles, Davidowicz has said.

Steven D. Sardella, the nearest neighbor to the farm, said except for one area of confusion about the existing farm, there is no opposition to the plant. He warned future complaints might also confuse odors from regular farm business and the power plant.

“Some people call me the mayor of Ward Hill and I funnel a lot of calls and complaints. A lot of times—and I noticed you mentioned odor quite a few times tonight—some people cannot tell the difference between the farm manure or corn silage,” Sardella said.

Linda Albers of Oxford Avenue, who toured a Rutland anaerobic digester, told board members she couldn’t detect an odor until she was within 40 feet of the processor building.

Inspectional Services Director Richard MacDonald urged members to carefully address truck traffic since, any complaint calls “will start with my office.”

Members discussed imposing limits on truck traffic and routes, odor and noise and the number of tons of food waste that can be delivered daily. The operation will be limited to accepting a total of 250-tons-per-day, but the developer expects an average of 150 to 175 tons-per-day. Most food wastes, coming from bakers and manufacturers, will be delivered in four or five 8,000-gallon tanker trucks a day. The state has banned disposal of such wastes at landfills and incinerators.

Board members modeled regulations for the Haverhill plant after those issued by the state for Deerfield. The board closed the public hearing without hearing any opposition. It expects to vote on the final city permit at a meeting Monday, April 10.

8 thoughts on “Health Board Nears Approval of Food Waste-to-Energy Plant

  1. I think the actual reason this was passed was because the farm is already a part of that neighborhood. No shell game here (this time, just neighbors that know each other & are informed. Also, those tractors have been plowing for the city for a while. I would know since they seem to take great pleasure in plowing it all into my newly shoveled driveway. So does this mean we will have curbside compost pick up?

  2. I still find it interesting how little opposition there is to this digester as opposed to the other one that was proposed up on Hilldale. Maybe the Mayor got his pocket filled on this project ? Where is Dave Hall stoking the flames of fear with threats of disease, truck traffic, and odors ? Typical political shell game and this Mayor plays it well. Sadly, most people do not remember the last fiasco and that is exactly what the Mayor plans for. Short memories. See the little shiny object over there ? Pay attention to that shiny object over there and ignore what is going on over here.

  3. Who and what relation is this Mr Sardella, sounds like he has some benefit to this project.
    Self proclaimed mayor of ward hill?? Isn’t ward hill part of Bradford and Bradford part of Haverhill?
    Ward hill will be known as the waste capital of the area.
    Didn’t farmer Mike help out Mistah mayah the last snow storm. Hmm send out tractors to help out the city and the plant gets approved. Let’s not forget how the mayor publically thanked farmer Mike.
    Oh how I love the politics of this fine city.
    The plant is going to happen, let’s just hope the city does the right thing and set up traffic patterns so the neighborhood isn’t impacted by the truck traffic.

    • Farm owner C. Michael “Mike” Davidowicz –

      $4600.00 to Dempsey, DeLeo, and a couple bucks to Dizoglio, 1K to Baker

      Vanguard Renewables –

      $5150.00, $500 to Dempsey

      “He warned future complaints might also confuse odors from regular farm business and the power plant.” – Should be nice on those hot, steamy, Summer days.

      • Yeah, I am sure that the odors are the same…..NOT ! Digester odors are much more odoriferous and pungent. You will see folks while you are outside trying to eat those burgers from the grill.