• Sustainable energy firm files for bankrputcy
     | May 02,2013
    Kevin O’Connor / Staff File Photo

    Carbon Harvest Energy of Brattleboro — the nation’s first integrated renewable energy-to-agriculture and algae biodiesel project — has filed for bankruptcy. These year-round greenhouses were built to take advantage of waste heat from the former Brattleboro landfill.

    BRATTLEBORO — A Vermont company that tried to develop a sustainable food, energy and algae system has filed for bankruptcy.

    Carbon Harvest of Brattleboro filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection last week.

    Carbon Harvest opened in 2009. The plan was to use methane gas from the Brattleboro landfill to generate heat that would warm greenhouses and raise produce. Carbon dioxide would be used to help grow algae.

    The bankruptcy is disappointing, said Windham Solid Waste Management District Executive Director Bob Spencer. “It was a great use of landfill gas and their plan to produce food was an attractive piece of the puzzle,” he said.

    Carbon Harvest was able to use the methane gas and produce energy, but the food, fish and algae systems were never commercially viable, the Brattleboro Reformer reported.

    The company announced it had run out of cash and laid off all but three of its employees in October, but then-president Don McCormick had hoped to keep the business afloat.

    A new group of investors took over earlier this year and McCormick resigned.

    Steve Magowan, an attorney representing the new investment team, said he recommended that the company file for bankruptcy.

    “They ran out of money in October, and they have been out of money since then,” he said.

    Carbon Harvest received two loans from the Vermont Economic Development Authority for $360,000 in 2010 and $450,000 in 2012, said VEDA CEO Jo Bradley.

    VEDA has the first lien on the company’s assets and will be active in the bankruptcy hearings.

    “This was a very innovative concept and most of the time those are the most difficult projects to make work,” she said.

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