Laidlaw to convert pulp mill into biomass power plant

By Anna Austin
Web exclusive posted Jan. 8, 2009, at 3:33 p.m. CST

Laidlaw Energy Group Inc., through its affiliate, Laidlaw Berlin Biopower LLC, announced Jan. 5 that it has completed an acquisition to develop a 66-megawatt biomass power plant in Berlin, N.H., over the next two years.

The facility will be constructed utilizing the revived remains of former Fraser Paper pulp mill, which has been owned by North American Dismantling Corp. since May 2006. North American Dismantling demolished buildings and assets not associated with the project; and sold the remaining assets and 50 percent of the land to Laidlaw Energy. The acquisition is accompanied by requisite financing for development of the $100 million project.

According to Laidlaw Energy, among the key assets acquired is a 1993-installed Babcock & Wilcox Co. boiler, which has a steam capacity of approximately 600,000 pounds per hour after biomass conversion.

When in operation, the power plant will run on approximately 700,000 tons of whole-tree wood chips annually, as well as other wood residue sourced from the local forest products industry and trucked in wood biomass.

In September, Laidlaw Energy completed a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Public Service Co. of New Hampshire, which will purchase 100 percent of the power produced at the plant.

Lou Bravakis, Laidlaw Energy's vice president of planning and development, said the next step is applying for permits from the New Hampshire Environmental Facilities Site Evaluation Committee, a process which is expected to take about one year.

The project in its entirety, which Laidlaw Energy dubbed "The Berlin Project," is slated to reach commercial operations in late 2010.

In addition to Berlin, Laidlaw Energy has a major project located in Cattaraugus County, N.Y., to convert the company's natural gas cogeneration facility to utilize woody biomass.