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Biomass plant negotiations are still alive

August 03, 2011
BERLIN — Negotiations are continuing, and the proposed up-to-75-megawatt Berlin Station biomass project is not yet dead, as many have feared, said president John Halle of Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth on Sunday afternoon. Cate Street owns the 60-plus-acre former pulp mill site on which the Babcock and Wilcox boiler and a 310-foot-tall stack are located.

When asked if he is optimistic that a deal with several wood-burning independent power producers (IPPs) could be struck, Halle replied, "I'm always optimistic."

Speaking on his cell phone from his hotel room in London, England, Halle continued, "I always believe that reasonable minds can come to a compromise."

Giving evidence that his optimism is more than just words, Halle pointed out that he had signed a contract two weeks ago with Carroll Concrete. The company is now using heavy equipment to demolish a number of old, large on-site concrete foundations in the vicinity of the boiler plant.

Before any new construction can begin, these foundations must be broken up and removed.

Only demolition work can go forward at this time, as stipulated by the state Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) that requires that Berlin Station must have a viable Power Purchase Agreement with Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) in place and that cannot be appealed.

As is their right, the IPPs filed a case in the state's highest court, appealing the SEC ruling that found their arguments opposing the Berlin biomass plant had no merit.

Halle praised the energy, patience and dedication of Gov. John Lynch, Department of Resources and Development (DRED) Commissioner George Bald, and Gov. Lynch's legal counsel, Jeff Meyers, in their valiant efforts to help all parties come to a solution with which they can all live.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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