Laidlaw, PSNH reach power purchase agreement

By Erin Voegele
Web exclusive posted Oct. 3, 2008 at 10:02 a.m. CST

Laidlaw Berlin BioPower LLC, an affiliate of New York-based Laidlaw Energy Group Inc., announced Sept. 29 it has agreed to the material terms of a contemplated 20-year power purchase agreement with Public Service Company of New Hampshire. Under the agreement, PSNH will purchase 100 percent of the electricity generated at Laidlaw's Berlin, N.H., biomass power plant.

The Berlin project will retrofit the existing Fraser Paper pulp mill into a 66 megawatt power plant. Michael Bartoszek, Laidlaw's chief executive officer, said the company is currently going through the permitting process and expects to begin commercial operations in late 2010. The project is expected to utilize more than 700,000 tons of wood chips annually. According to Bartoszek, Laidlaw expects the facility to use both locally produced wood biomass and trucked in biomass.

Once operational, the facility is expected to employ 40 skilled workers. Laidlaw also projects the plant will create more than 500 indirect jobs, including many in the logging and trucking industries.

Bartoszek said the conversion of idle mill assets not only benefits the environment, but also the local communities as well. "A lot of times the communities are built around these facilities," he said. "When they shut down and go out of business, they leave a lot of people out of work�projects like this can't replace all the jobs, but they do have a significant economic impact on the region."

Laidlaw is undertaking three similar projects. In the Buffalo, N.Y., area it is converting a natural gas facility to biomass, which is expected to be operational by late 2009. The company also has projects in New Hampshire and one in Massachusetts.