Berlin, N.H., biomass power plant canceled

By Lisa Gibson | July 05, 2011

The Berlin Station biomass project in New Hampshire is officially off the table as a result of financial uncertainty created by project opponents, according to the project developers.

The 75-megawatt wood-fueled plant would have been developed at the former Fraser Pulp Mill site in Berlin and would have been the community’s largest property tax payer. But negotiations over the withdrawal of a Supreme Court appeal of the station’s power purchase agreement (PPA) failed to result in an agreement by the June 30 deadline, according to Scott Tranchemontagne, spokesperson for Cate Street Capital, which has assisted developer Laidlaw Berlin BioPower.

Six small wood-burning plants, all on the verge of closures themselves with expired power purchase agreements, had appealed the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the PPA for the Berlin Station with utility Public Service New Hampshire. The PUC rejected that appeal, but the six independent power plants then appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, Tranchemontagne said. Other parties involved in the negotiations over the appeal included the governor’s office and the state Department of Resources and Economic Development.

The $275 million project would have created 40 permanent jobs once it was finished and up to 400 construction jobs over the next two years.

Local reports lament the loss of an economic boost in an area that desperately needs it.