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City addresses SEC regarding Laidlaw

February 24, 2010
CONCORD — The city of Berlin filed to intervene in the state Site Evaluation Committee review of the Laidlaw proposal for Berlin last week.

It did so through its attorney, Jonathan Peress, of the law firm Downs Rachlin Martin, which the city hired because of their expertise in energy law.

Intervening is neither a vote in support of nor against the project; it ensures the city has its interests represented in the review.

"Because the proposed facility would be located in close proximity to the downtown area of the city," the city's petition to intervene said," the city has substantial interest in the outcome of this matter and a unique interest that will not be protected by other parties to the proceedings."

"The construction and operation of the proposed facility will directly impact the city and substantially implicates one or more of the foregoing interests of the city and its residents," the petition said.

Mr. Peress, along with attorney Merritt Schnipper, will represent the city at the SEC hearings. The city council budgeted $100,000 for their representation last year, which costs more than $250 an hour. The city has spent approximately $45,000 of that money to date.

The city wasn't the only petitioner looking to intervene in the SEC review of the Laidlaw project. Wagner Forest Management also requested they be represented at the hearings. They are a major timberland owner in the area.

"The location and scale of the Laidlaw project will have a profound effect on local wood markets which we currently serve and put a significant increased demand on the logging infrastructure that we use to harvest the timber on our adjoining land," their letter to the SEC said. "We are not pre-judging whether this is beneficial or detrimental but it clearly will change the dynamics of the local wood using community."

Wagner also is developing a wind project in the North Country that will use the Cos Loop transmission system, the letter said, the same system Laidlaw intends to use. "Wagner has a direct interest in knowing how Laidlaw will be approaching the transmission part of their project."

These two are the only interveners to have petitioned the SEC at this time, but that will likely change. Clean Power Development, another company looking to develop a biomass project in Berlin, said they intend to petition the SEC for intervener status as well.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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