2nd group interested in Berlin wood plant


BERLIN, N.H. (AP) – A second company is interested in developing a wood-fired power plant in the city.

New Energy Capital Corp. says it might build a new plant or upgrade an existing co-generation facility in Berlin, where one big consumer of low-grade wood recently closed and another will close next month.

“We’re in the business of investing in renewable energy projects including wood-fired generating plants,” said Dan Reicher, president of the Hanover-based company. “Berlin, at this point, is one strong interest.”

Public Service Company of New Hampshire, the state’s largest electric utility, said last month it was interested in building a 50-megawatt wood-plant in Berlin. Public Service is barred from building or buying new plants as part of the state’s deregulation of the retail electricity market.

But Berlin officials are backing a bill to let Public Service build a wood-burning plant in their city. They say only Public Service is likely to have the resources and know-how for the project, which they say is badly needed.

New Energy Capital would have to re-evaluate its interest if the bill passes, Reicher said.

“PSNH entering the mix would certainly add a new wrinkle that we would have to consider,” he said.

A pulp mill in the city owned by Fraser Papers Inc. is scheduled to close next month, and the Groveton Paper Board mill closed last month. Between them, they used more than 1.2 million tons of low-grade wood a year, Berlin Mayor Bob Danderson notes. He says he’s like to see both Public Service and New Energy Capital build plants.

Public Service said its 50-megawatt plant would use about 400,000 tons a year. New Energy Capital has not said how big its plant might be.

In addition to Hanover, the private equity capital firm has offices in Vermont and Massachusetts. The company’s projects include upgrading a biomass power plant in Greenville, Maine.

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