The Rural Patriot

November 15, 2006

Laidlaw Energy Group’s Recent Biomass Mailing

Filed under: Cattaraugus County — theruralpatriot @ 2:36 pm

Residents of Ellicottville recently received the mailing, “Clearing the Air; The Facts About Woody Biomass Renewable Energy in Ellicottville”, from Laidlaw Energy Group, Inc. The mailing attempts to address five points of concern relating to the proposed biomass plant.

Perhaps my “suspicion factor” is still at a high level from the past few weeks of debunking negative political advertisements, but I find this mailing to be simplistic in its approach, and it leaves me with more questions than answers. I’ll be the first to admit, however, that I don’t have the access or background to completely break down this mailing’s points, but lets give it a try.

Laidlaw’s Five Points and their True or False answers:

1. Ellicottville’s revewable energy will come from woody biomass – a clean, green energy resource… TRUE! Woody biomass power is the most widely used renewable energy resource in the U.S. It is “stored solar energy” – the oldest, most reliable energy source on the globe – and it plays a vital role in New York State’s “Green Power” and “EnergySmart” initiatives.

Area residents are concerned that chemically-treated materials from pallets, furniture remnants, and other sources will make its way to the plant.

2. Ellicottville’s woody biomass renewable energy may damage the quality of life for those who live, work, and vacation here… FALSE! By creating 25 full-time, “green collar” jobs and generating over 50 Million kilowatt hours of low cost, clean, green, renewable electricity – enough to power 6,000 homes and businesses – using woody biomass will have a cleaner environmental footprint in Ellicottville than the area’s existing electric power sources.

These benefits will come from a modern, environmentally friendly facility that at its highest point will stand no taller than a typical, mature maple tree.

Local residents have considerable concern for the consistent amount of delivery trucks that will travel to and from the plant not only in the area of traffic on two-lane roads, but also for the emission/pollution increase. Additional environmental concerns are addressed in Points #3 and #4.

Twenty-five jobs would be nice, but will the generated electricity actually be used in the immediate area for 6,000 homes? From our post Possible Laidlaw Co-Generation Plant To Be Discussed:

In the case of the Ellicottville facility, conversion to wood biomass will dramatically reduce the facility’s operating costs, while allowing for increased electric capacity and the production of heat and steam for kiln drying hardwood at highly competitive prices. LLEG believes this strategy can be replicated in order to convert other facilities rendered uneconomic by high fossil fuel prices or as an alternative to coal generation, which can often result in significant hazardous emissions.

So, will the energy by used for commercial, residential, or commercial AND residential use? Also, typical, mature maple trees” in this area can and do reach 40+ feet in height. There is no dispute that the facility, “at its greatest height”, would be noticeable.

3. Snow making machines on Ellicottville’s ski slopes generate greater emissions than will woody biomass renewable energy… TRUE! According to their own NYSDEC operating permits, the diesel-powered snow making machines at Ellicottville’s local ski resorts release more greenhouse gases and particulate emissions than will the state of the art biomass facility in Ellicottville.

(This point also contains a graph that illustrates emission factors lbs/mmbtu for carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides for biomass, local ski resorts, oil-fired, and coal-fired entities.)

While all five points of this mailing are “suspect”, this is the point that really stands out. The snow-making machines look to be the worst offender on all levels with the exception of sulfur oxides emissions – coal fired and oil fired have more. The biomass plant is the least offender on all levels.. What is not mentioned, and all that live in Ellicottville and Great Valley are fully aware, is that the snow-making machines do not run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They don’t run 24 hours a day even during the ski season. Depending on the amount of snow pack, the usage also varies from year to year.

The chart lacks certain factors, and I feel that it makes dishonest comparisons. A better, more honest method would have been to include some sort of “time” reference; i.e., average the hours per year for the snow-making machines using a five or ten year base for the average; then compare those emissions figures to the yearly totals for the biomass emissions. I imagine the chart would have quite a different look.

4. Ellicottville’s woody biomass renewable energy will generate dangerous levels of air contaminants and pollutants… FALSE! Safer and cleaner than the area’s many active wood burning stoves and fireplaces, Ellicottville’s renewable energy will come from clean, unadulterated woody biomass. The facility’s continuing commitment to its stringent Federal air quality permit will help ensure the operation is “smokeless”.

Unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas – the current sources of Ellicottville electricity – woody biomass will not contribute to the creation of acid rain and will reduce the causes of global warming.

I refer to our post Possible Laidlaw Co-Generation Plant To Be Discussed:

While the future of the co-generation plant in Ellicottville remains a real possibility, the newly developed “Citizens for a Better Ellicottville” support group continues to dig deep for the truth of Laidlaw’s intentions. According to the group, the following air contaminants and hazardous air pollutants will be released annually from the plant: Nitrogen Oxide-111 tons, Sulfur Dioxide-9 tons, Particulate Matter-4 tons, Carbon Monoxide-111 tons, Volatile Organic Compounds-18 tons and Hazardous Air Pollutants (including Benzene, Formaldehyde and Hydrogen Chloride)-19 tons.

I am not a scientist, but is the above data not a point of concern? It is worthy to note that this information was not included in the Laidlaw mailing, and I find it hard to believe that the ski resorts’ snow-making machines emit comparable totals on an annual basis.

5. Coal, Oil, and Gas are better, lower cost alternatives to clean, green, woody biomass renewable energy… FALSE! Presently, New Yorkers export $1,800 for every man, woman and child to pay for imported energy. Biomass is locally owned, locally produced, and creates sustainable, local “green collar” jobs – keeping Ellicottville dollars right here at home and circulating in the local economy, not in the hands of people and governments unfriendly or hostile to the United States. Woody biomass is clean, green, renewable and made in the USA.

I am not knowledgeable enough to argue some of the finer points made here. Is it locally owned? I don’t know, but I’ve heard that perhaps local in this case means New York City. The $1,800 cost? No source of methodology is given for this figure; therefore, it means little/nothing to me. Again, does locally produced relate to local residential usage?

While twenty-five jobs are nice, how much of a local, economic impact will it generate? Most of the wages generated will not be spent in the local Ellicottville area; the majority of local business is geared to the resort trade. Quality Market and some of the local restaurants may see a slight increase, but Olean, Springville and Bradford businesses will more likely be the main recipients of disposable income. (This would be the case no matter the source of new jobs in the immediate Ellicottville area.)

I also find it interesting that Laidlaw is playing the “National Defense and Homeland Security” card here, (as stated on the front of the mailing). While it could help in making the country less dependent on foreign oil, the effort is comparable to “a drop in the ocean”. Most electricity used in this area is generated through the Niagara Falls Power Plant, which, to my understanding, is not owned by an entity that is hostile to the US.

My sense is that the majority of Ellicottville residents do not desire having this biomass plant in the area. They have fact and/or emotional-based reasons/concerns in their opposition to the project. But, one point is certain – they are united in their cause, and I don’t believe that the Laidlaw mailing was successful in changing many opinions.

Prior related posts:
Possible Laidlaw Co-Generation Plant To Be Discussed
Ellicottville Co-Generation Plant Update



  1. Hi, I was just wondering what is required for Laidlaw to go ahead with the plant. If the citizens vote against it, can they stop it?


    Comment by Tim Ryan — November 24, 2006 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  2. My understanding is that the last step in the process is securing approval from the Ellicottville Town Planning Board. I don’t think that it will be subject to a public vote. If approval is granted, Laidlaw states that they are ready to proceed within a few months. They have already received a $1 million grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and a permit from the New York State DEC for this project.

    Laidlaw’s website is, and they are setting up an additional website, within the next week which they claim will “provide information and updates” on the Ellicottville project.

    Comment by theruralpatriot — November 26, 2006 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  3. Hi, thanks for your response. Do you know if the Planning Board have a deadline for their decision?

    Comment by Tim Ryan — November 28, 2006 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  4. I’ll try to find out for you, Tim, and I’ll post the answer here.

    Comment by theruralpatriot — November 29, 2006 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

  5. Thankyou

    Comment by Tim Ryan — November 29, 2006 @ 8:59 pm | Reply

  6. December 21, 2006 10:31 AM Eastern Time
    Laidlaw Energy New York Biomass Project Receives Joint Support From New York Congressional Leadership
    NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Laidlaw Energy Group, Inc. (OTC: LLEG) announced today that ten members of New York State’s Capitol Hill leadership wrote Governor-Elect Eliot Spitzer on Tuesday in support of Laidlaw Energy’s Ellicottville, New York biomass energy project and two other noteworthy New York biomass projects, The Biorefinery in New York and the Lyonsdale Biomass Facility. The signatories urged Governor-Elect Spitzer to fully include New York’s abundant and renewable woody biomass resources as a key component in the new administration’s comprehensive energy policy.

    The diverse and bi-partisan Upstate/Downstate coalition was led by Congressman John M. McHugh (NY-23Rd) and Congressman John R. “Randy” Kuhl (NY-29th) and included United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27th), Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey (NY-22nd), Congressman Edolphus Towns (NY-10th), Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4th), Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-6th), Timothy H. Bishop (NY-1st) and Congressman James T. Walsh (NY-25th). The letter strongly urges Governor-Elect Spitzer to ensure that his energy policy embraces woody biomass technologies that “not only help design a more sustainable future, but also help reduce New York State’s dependency on foreign sources of energy.”

    Strongly emphasizing the extensive existing scientific research from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and others including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which clearly maintains that woody biomass resources have distinct technical, economical and environmental advantages, the signatories clearly recognized that CO-2 neutral woody biomass enjoys significant advantages toward reduction of the causes of global warming over fossil fuels like coal and petroleum.

    The congressional delegation signer’s highlighted efforts such as Laidlaw Energy Group’s Ellicottville, NY biomass energy project for seeking to use sustainable and renewable thermal energy and electricity in an innovative combined heat and power project to create economic vitality for the New York State forest products industry.

    Concerning Laidlaw Energy’s Ellicottville project, the letter stated, “Laidlaw Energy & Environmental is an exciting project in Upstate New York. They have committed to strengthening the local economic fabric in Ellicottville, New York, where their re-powered renewable facility will directly put 25 local men and women back to work and will also help local truckers and forest products industry workers earn their livings. Laidlaw Energy & Environmental will also generate year round annual tax revenues in support of local government and public schools.” Full text of the letter can be found at 121906.pdf.

    (Due to its length, this URL may need to be copied/pasted into your Internet browser’s address field. Remove the extra space if one exists.)

    Laidlaw Energy’s Ellicottville, New York project involves the conversion of a natural gas fired power plant to utilize 100% clean woody biomass as its fuel source. It is the only power plant in the Buffalo area that is specifically designed to utilize woody biomass fuel. The project will create numerous economic benefits for the area and help improve air quality in the region by eliminating the production of greenhouse gas emissions known to effect climate change.

    Concerning the delegation letter, Laidlaw Energy President and CEO Michael B. Bartoszek stated, “We are exceptionally gratified by the articulate and visionary support of this truly bipartisan group of congressional leaders. From Buffalo to Brooklyn, from the Adirondack North Country to the Allegany Mountains, all the way to the tip of Long Island, their message is clear and we at Laidlaw Energy are excited and inspired that our leadership understands so well the value of New York’s homegrown, renewable and environmentally friendly woody biomass energy resource from New York’s forest and farm communities. We sincerely appreciate and applaud the efforts of Congressman Kuhl, Congressman McHugh, Senator Schumer and the entire bipartisan coalition.”

    About Laidlaw Energy Group – Cleaner Energy For a Greener Future

    Laidlaw Energy Group (LLEG) is engaged in the development of independent power plants that generate electricity from renewable resources. LLEG’s mission is to build and manage a profitable portfolio of renewable energy facilities through the development of new facilities and acquisition of existing facilities. LLEG is headquartered in New York, New York. For more information on LLEG, please visit our websites at and

    This communication contains statements expressing expectations of future events and/or results which may include, without limitation, statements concerning anticipated financial performance, business prospects, technological developments, potential markets, new products, research and development activities and similar matters. Such statements constitute forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements based on future expectations rather than historical facts are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, and LLEG cannot provide assurance that such statements will prove to be correct. LLEG undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

    Laidlaw Energy Group, Inc.
    Michael B. Bartoszek, 212-480-9884

    Comment by Michael Brower — December 26, 2006 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  7. Don’t forget to make mention of the “Energy Credits” that Laidlaw plans to sell. They hope to earn $5,000,000 for the sale of these credits.

    Who really wins here? Ellicottville or Laidlaw?

    Comment by Mick — February 1, 2007 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

  8. Does anyone know how the variance hearing went on 2/22/2007. What was the outcome.

    Appreciate the info.

    Comment by Tim Thomas — February 25, 2007 @ 7:58 am | Reply

  9. global warming is becoming such a obvious problem that someone somewhere other than Al Gore needs to step up to help drive the bus!

    Comment by global warming — August 19, 2007 @ 8:59 am | Reply

  10. Its about time this country starts to build and invent new ways to supply our energy needs. Every time a new idea comes up someone cries or complains it will effect me. Well every person in America needs to support each and every new clean energy idea. We are in a WAR because of energy. Without the American people being so tied to OIL we would not be in a WAR and terrorism would be a tiny issue. Oil money pays for and supplies terrorism needs to survive. This is about our kids and the future not for the now.

    I love the environment and will fight to keep it clean. We have so many energy options that can supply all of this country’s needs. Lets start to use it.

    Comment by It's time to start NEW — November 4, 2007 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  11. Laidlaw Energy Group has proposed building a biomass plant here in NH. I cannot find out anything about this company other than who the CEO is. There is nothing on the web about what they do, who their officers are, or any other information. I do know their stock is just about worthless. The only information on the web is from their websites and their press releases. Who the hell are they? They claim to be “builders and operators” of biomass plants but for the life of me I cannot find one plant that they have operated or built. Who is this Bartoszek character? There is nothing on the web about him until he appeared out of no where as Laidlaw’s CEO. What is his experiance? Does anyone have any information on these people? All they seem to produce is press releases.

    Comment by Harley Lapiere — November 16, 2007 @ 2:24 am | Reply

  12. I feel for your town though I’ve never been there. Laidlaw energy is trying to capture our town as well as you may already know or will plainly see by going to;

    Please do not hesitate to ask us for help or offer suggestions. We very much appreciate any help you can provide us as a community.

    Comment by jonathan edwards — December 3, 2007 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

  13. any updates in your town?

    Comment by R. Brown — May 15, 2008 @ 1:08 pm | Reply

  14. Super internet site! Hope to visit again..

    Comment by Irrawninild — May 20, 2009 @ 9:25 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: