Wood ash at McNeil power plant used as fertilizer

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Wood ash at McNeil power plant used as fertilizer

Tue, 06/02/2009 - 11:01am -- tim

A 2009 change in the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation regulations has confirmed the quality of the wood ash from McNeil Station as a valuable fertilizer, and it has been used as that with the help of Resource Management, Inc.
Burlington Electric Department has partnered with RMI for the past decade to remove all wood ash from the McNeil Generating Plant and recycle it into a useful product. Wood ash, which is produced during the generation of electricity at McNeil Station, is in high demand by farmers who use it as an organic fertilizer. RMI removes it from the power plant and takes it directly to the farmers to spread on their fields before planting their crops.
Barbara Grimes, general manager of BED, said, “It is important that we take every measure possible to reduce waste, reduce greenhouse gas, and promote the economic vitality of the region. Turning this wood ash by-product into something useful for area farmers complies with these goals.”
Wood-fired power plants began developing in New England following the energy crisis of the 1970’s. These innovative wood-chip power plants were built on the premise that clean, local energy is vital to New England. Further, they were built with the intent to produce no waste; the wood ash produced is the perfect product for New England soils. When the 50 megawatt McNeil Generating Station came on line in 1984, it was the largest in the world. The fuel combusted by the power plant is primarily wood that comes from wood lots with forest management plans and clearing for development.
Wood ash is unique because it provides an organic source of potassium and replaces lime. Potassium is an important nutrient that helps plants resist drought, increase the hardiness of plants and facilitates nitrogen uptake. The lime value in the wood ash quickly brings up the soil pH. While most wood ash goes on corn and hay ground, it is also very beneficial for vegetable crops, small grains and pumpkins. For farmers, commercial-grade wood ash has become a cornerstone of soil fertility in the northeast.
Closing the loop on waste and turning it into a useful product is an important part of sustainability and greenhouse gas reductions. Farmers who use this wood ash are contributing to the goal of sustainability.
Source: BED