- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

LUNENBURG, Vt. (AP) - A proposed wood pellet production plant would make “all the difference in the world” for northeastern Vermont’s struggling logging business, a local official in Essex County says.

Lunenburg Selectman Amos Colby told The Caledonian Record (http://bit.ly/1QkjyL6 ) on Wednesday he supports a Kingdom Pellets proposal to build a $5 million plant at the site of the former Gilman paper mill, located on the Connecticut River.

Wood pellets are a heating fuel used in place of traditional firewood. They are burned in efficient, cleaner-burning stoves.

An application for state funding says the project would produce 60 million pounds of wood pellets each year and create 21 full-time jobs with living wages, health care coverage and profit sharing benefits. Construction could begin as soon as May 2016 if Kingdom Pellets can secure funding and finalize a lease with Ampersand Gilman Biomass, a holding company that purchased the Gilman paper mill and dam in 2008. Pellet production could begin the following October.

According to the application, loggers are seeing fewer places where they can sell their wood, making the project time sensitive.

“The sense of urgency with this project is to avert a logging industry collapse in (northeastern Vermont), without which the mill cannot operate,” reads the Kingdom Pellets application. “With reductions announced by Verso paper, (northeastern Vermont) will be hardest hit. We need to move quickly to prevent loggers from abandoning their livelihood for fear of no replacement business.”

An informational hearing on the project is scheduled for Nov. 23 at the Lunenburg Town Offices.

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Information from: The Caledonian-Record, http://www.caledonianrecord.com

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