Halle says Berlin Station deadlines are real


July 11, 2011
BERLIN — John Halle, president of Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth, said in a Friday afternoon telephone call that he is close to placing the 75-megwatt Berlin Station biomass project on hold.

In order to put the project back on track, the state's independent power producers (IPPs) must collectively agree to stand down and withdraw their case in front of the state Supreme Court challenging the Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) that Berlin Station and Public Service of New Hampshire have signed. Although progress was made at a stakeholders' meeting convened at the State House at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29, by Gov. John Lynch that did not end until 10:30, the one company that has no urgent need for resolutions remained — and still remains — a holdout.

June 30 was the hard deadline by which Cate Capital said the IPP stalemate had to be resolved.

This is because July 15 is the latest date that construction can begin this summer that would allow enough progress to be made to continue work through the winter. The total construction project will take 27 months before electricity can be generated. If construction cannot start by mid-July then nearly a year must pass before the project could be re-started, Halle said. "Meanwhile the price of copper, the price of steel, and the price of labor will going up, and there'll be inflation; that is, the financials will change," he explained, adding that he cannot know if a year from now the project would still be viable.

"I don't want to walk away," Halle said. "This project could be profitable for investors, and it would do Berlin a lot of good and the forest products industry a lot of good. The $2.5 million in New Market Tax Credits would also do a world of good in Berlin."

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