Energizer plant plans switch to gas

Release Date: 
October 18th, 2013

By Patrick McArdle STAFF WRITER

BENNINGTON — The Energizer plant in Bennington is planning to convert from oil to compressed natural gas as a heating source, which is expected to cut its annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25 percent.

On Tuesday, the local Act 250 commission heard an application to put in a compressed natural gas uploading station, tanks and a hose station surrounded by a security fence. The new equipment would be built on the west end of the Energizer plant on Scott Street.

Hubert Burnor, facility engineer for the Bennington Energizer plant, said there were several benefits to converting from oil to gas.

“We want to reduce costs to be more competitive and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Gerry Myers, vice-president of operations and sales for NG Advantage, said that Energizer would be the company’s first client in Bennington and the seventh client in the state.

MSK Engineering, the company that did the engineering and site work for the project, was represented by James Secor. He explained that the project would call for the conversion of an existing loading dock by adding equipment specifically designed to accept compressed natural gas.

The gas would be delivered by trucks, which come from NG’s Vermont site in Milton and pull up to the converted loading dock which will be surrounded by a security fence. Myers said the deliveries are expected to be made once every two days but at the highest use, deliveries might be made once a day.

While Myers said compressed natural gas is a hazardous material, he said the chances are very small that it could cause a fire or explosion and said the likely worst case scenario would be a problem with one of the trucks that might cause the gas to vent. In the air, even a full tank of gas would disperse in 35 minutes, according to Myers.

Myers said the town would see less pollution because the compressed natural gas burns “significantly” cleaner than oil.

The Act 250 hearing, which lasted about two hours, was quiet. Two neighbors and the owner of a property near the plant appeared to ask questions but neither requested party status, which would have allowed them to appeal the permit, at the end of the meeting.

The Act 250 commissioners are waiting for a few more pieces of information but Tuesday’s hearing was recessed. Rick Kobik, the chairman of the commission, suggested the developers submit some more information on the final design of the exterior equipment,

The town has already agreed to issue a municipal permit but it’s expected to be issued at the same time as a construction permit. Generally, two permits are issued for construction projects, one that permits the project to exist and the second that permits the construction plan to build it.

Because the project primarily consists of converting an existing loading dock to a new purpose, Daniel Monks, the town’s planning director and zoning administrator, said the permit could be issued administratively and didn’t need to go before the Development Review Board.

Myers said he expected to meet with emergency responders this week to discuss the best practices for responding to a situation involving compressed natural gas. As part of those discussions, Myers said he would ask the town’s staff and emergency responders to suggest the best route for delivering the compressed natural gas to the plant.

The addition of Energizer as a customer would not necessarily make compressed natural gas available to other business customers but he said that if other industrial clients were to sign up with NG, it would increase the chances of adding another site in the southern part of Vermont.

Secor said if all the permits are issued, he expects the loading dock to be converted by the end of this year.