Loan from Common Good Finance boosts completion of Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield
Long in the planning to ensure it is locally owned, the Northeast Biodiesel plant nearly ready at the Greenfield Industrial Park is getting a final boost from a 160-member, community-based nonprofit finance system.
The $200,000, seven-year loan is provided by Ashfield-based Common Good Finance to Co-op Power, a Hatfield-based energy cooperative that is developing the $4.2 million biodiesel plant. It will cap a six-month campaign to raise the final $850,000 so the plant can begin producing biodiesel fuel from used vegetable oil.
With recent completion of a three-month campaign to raise $600,000 from its 450 member-owners, Co-op Power’s engineers, Spec Process Engineering of Burlington, finished revisions to plant designs and permits for the project, which is awaiting approval from the town building inspector to proceed with the final phase of construction. A plant manager, who is overseeing permitting and construction, also has been hired.
With over $2 million already invested in the plant by the cooperative, including purchase of industrial park land, building construction, biodiesel processing equipment, designs, permitting and planning, its Chief Executive Officer Lynn Benander said, “This $200,000 loan from Common Good Finance represents a very important piece of the final construction financing for the biodiesel factory, and a vote of confidence that will help us complete agreements with other economic development lenders to finalize the total financing package for the factory.”
The project has been in the works for more than 10 years. Two-thirds of the factory, at a 26.5-acre site on Silvio Conte Drive, is complete.
Benander said that once operational, it should be able to add a second processor within a year, for a total capacity of 3.5 million gallons annually. The biodiesel can be used for heating as well as diesel-powered farm equipment, construction equipment and vehicles.
Common Good Finance is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop and promote rCredits, a democratically controlled electronic credit system generating financial resources to benefit communities. Its pilot rCredits system, launched in May 2013 in Greenfield, has 160 account holders making electronic purchases at 20 area businesses including Green Fields Market and Foster’s Supermarket.
The loan to Co-Op Power comes from donations to the nonprofit organization from individuals and foundations from around the country, according to Common Good Finance President William Spademan. Under terms of the loan agreement, Co-op Power members will be able to join the rCredits system and purchase biodiesel at local pumping stations using an rCredits electronic card or pay with traditional credit cards.