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Joyce Endee

Clean Power ready to progress, but has no buyers

April 14, 2010
CONCORD — The state Site Evaluation Committee released the official announcement rejecting request of petitioners from Gorham and Berlin that the committee review the Clean Power Development project.

"The committee finds that local review of this proposed project has treated the project as a significant aspect of land use planning in which all environmental, economic and technical issues in and integrated fashion," the order said, "and, therefore, there is no need for further review by this committee."

The proposal is to build a 29 megawatt biomass plant next to the wastewater treatment facility on Sheby Street.

The announcement came days before CPD announced they received the last of the permit they needed to begin construction and selected a firm to build the plant.

They still need a power purchase agreement, or PPA, however, before they can move forward. They have been negotiating with a Vermont utility about obtaining one. They have an open complaint in front of the state Public Utilities Commission because they say Public Service of New Hampshire refused to entertain discussions about such an agreement.

CPD and PSNH submitted arguments to the PUC regarding the CPD's complaint earlier this month. CPD's argument is that PSNH is required to at least consider an offer before rejecting it to ensure they are purchasing the least expensive electricity possible for the rate payers. PSNH's argument is that they are under no obligation to purchase electricity from anyone, including CPD.

Laidlaw Berlin Biopower, a company working to build a biomass plant on the former mill site in Berlin, has claimed for more than a year they have an agreement with PSNH to sell power. PSNH says there is no contract, meaning a PPA, but they say there may be one in the future.

CPD has been at odds with Laidlaw for several years now. Laidlaw is in the SEC process now, and CPD has limited intervenor status in the proceedings. But last week CPD submitted a request to the SEC asking the committee to grant them full intervenor status, citing the committee's past willingness to grant CPD full intervenor status in another review, that of Granite Reliable Power, a windfarm in Cos County.

"CPD's interest in the Laidlaw project in this proceeding are substantially greater than they were in the Granite Reliable Power proceeding, given that CPD is now ready to commence construction," CPD's letter to the SEC said.

The SEC only granted the city of Berlin and the Cos County Commissioners full intervenor status in the review; several other companies and organizations were granted limited status similar to CPDs. The SEC has yet to respond to CPD's request.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
Garnett HIll
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