Berlin wood plant cleared for transmission loop

The Coos County electric transmission loop can handle a bio-energy plant planned in Berlin, but it may be the last generating plant the loop can handle without a major upgrade.

Clean Power Development, the company planning to build the Berlin a wood-burning plant, announced Thursday that ISO New England, which oversees power generation in the region, spent months conducting an extensive evaluation of the area’s existing transmission system, concluded the proposed 29-megawatt plant would not overload the loop.

Besides adding 29 megawatts to the regional grid, the planned facility would provide steam to commercial and industrial facilities in the area.

To sell the electricity, the Concord-based company will have to transmit it over the aging loop, which has very little capacity left. Clean Power is next in line to connect to the transmission loop to Granite Reliable Power, a subsidiary of Noble Environmental Power, which wants to build a 33 turbine, 99-megawatt wind farm in Millsfield and Dixville.

Clean Power had been hoping to build a 45-megawatt plant but downsized the plan, citing both the lack of available local wood, as well as the limited capacity of the line.

Behind Clean Power is Laidlaw Energy Group, which is planning to build a 66-megawatt biomass plant, also in Berlin.

Clean Power touted the study as another milestone in its effort to construct the plant. On Sept. 10, the company announced it received an alteration of terrain permit from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, since construction would have an impact on about 10 acres of land. The company had to agree to develop a number of bio-retention ponds to contain all runoff from the site, so it wouldn’t have a negative impact on Androscoggin River water quality.

The company said it received a conditional approval from the city of Berlin in July.

Clean Power said it hopes to break ground on the project in September 2012. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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