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Berlin’s biomass brawl

The winner of a dispute over who will be granted permission to construct a biomass-to-energy plant in the city of Berlin, New Hampshire, US, may be emerging.

Renewable energy companies Laidlaw Berlin Biopower and Clean Power Development (CPD) wish to build a plant on the edge of the city but the wind farm located close by and a maximum amount of electricity the North County electric grid can take means only one of the two possible facilities will materialise.

While US, New York-based Laidlaw Berlin Biopower is planning the development of a 70MW plant, local competitor Clean Power Development wants to build one on a much smaller scale.

Now, however, it has emerged that the state’s largest utility Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) has agreed to purchase Laidlaw’s power if construction goes ahead.

Martin Muray, a spokesperson for PSNH, said: ‘The agreement gives us the assurance we’ll have the energy that comes from the facility as well as the renewable energy certificates.’ Muray continued by explaining that striking a deal with Laidlaw would see the company provide PSNH with energy for the next five years.

The news is not so great for CPD. Not only has its competitor got the backing of PSNH, but it is yet to find a buyer for its energy.

And now the company has run into another problem. In order to build a road to their project CPD needs access to PSNH’s property. However in response to a lawsuit filed by CPD against PSNH for unfair treatment, PSNH is refusing to grant the company land rights.

‘We have invested time, money and effort in developing what we believe is a truly beneficial project for the city of Berlin and it has been road blocked…by PSNH’s refusal to discuss with us an easement,’ said project manager at CPD, Bill Gabler.

While the dispute continues, Berlin City Councillor Mark Evans is only interested in one thing – when the new jobs will be available to the local citizens.