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Mild weather lets Babcock & Wilcox get ahead of schedule

December 28, 2011
BERLIN — The mild early winter weather that has frustrated snowmobilers, skiers, and snowboarders has helped push the beginning work on the Berlin biomass facility ahead of schedule.

"We're doing great; we've spent a lot of money there!" explained Cate Street Capital CEO John Halle in a Thursday morning telephone interview.

"We have about 100 workers, many local to the Androscoggin Valley, on site; up from last month's 75," explained Chuck Grecco, executive vice president of Cate Street and project manager of the biomass facility that is permitted to generate over 70-megawatts of power from burning clean woodchips. "Babcock and Wilcox are ahead of schedule and on budget, both of which are desirable."

The facility is expected to be sending electricity onto the grid on Oct. 15, 2013, he said. Testing and startup runs are targeted to begin in April 2013, which means that wood will be purchased in advance of that date, Grecco said.

Now demolition work is continuing, and new foundations are being poured for additional structures and facilities.

B & W has taken Cate Street's direction to heart and is hiring many local workers, including off-duty members of the Berlin Police Department as security guards.

Talks have already begun with landscapers to be ready to improve the appearance of the industrial site, Grecco said.

Cate Street hosted a groundbreaking ceremony with a BBQ lunch more than two months ago on Oct. 6.

"We're proud and pleased with how much has been accomplished since then," Grecco said, adding that B & W is working hard to realize Cate Street's vision.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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