Laidlaw to build 50-megawatt biomass-energy plant in N.H.

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: energy management

Laidlaw Energy Group Inc. announced April 2 that its affiliate, Laidlaw EcoPower LLC, has agreed to acquire certain property and assets of the Fraser Paper Mill, located in Berlin, N.H. Laidlaw plans to convert the facility to operate as a 50-megawatt biomass-energy power plant. The mill, which closed in May 2006, has significant infrastructure in place that is suitable for biomass energy, including a large Babcock & Wilcox boiler that was installed in 1993 at a cost of nearly $100 million.

The Berlin facility is located in the heavily forested northern New Hampshire area, which makes it ideally positioned to take advantage of the area’s abundant biomass resources. Prior to its closure, the mill processed approximately 1 million tons of biomass per year. The newly reconfigured plant will use more than 500,000 tons of biomass per year, creating and sustaining approximately 500 local jobs for truckers and forest products workers who will supply wood chips, as well as local businesses that will provide goods and services. 40 direct jobs will be created at the biomass-energy plant.

North American Dismantling Inc., the current owner of the facility, has agreed to retain an equity position in the Berlin Project. In addition, Laidlaw and NAD intend to work together to develop the balance of the approximately 130-acre site for manufacturing. The parties are currently in discussions with several parties that could potentially be ideally suited to occupy the balance of the site and have a synergistic relationship to the power plant. A combined heat and power application could ultimately be the result, whereby the plant would supply electricity and excess thermal energy to a manufacturing entity for process heating purposes, in addition to exporting its green power to the electric grid. A biofuel application that would have a synergistic relationship through the common use of biomass fuel is also being actively considered.

Emissions from the biomass-energy facility will be maintained at an unprecedented low level through the use of highly advanced, second generation emissions controls that are expected to enable the plant to qualify for the renewable energy programs of various states in the Northeast and allow for the sale of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

The Berlin Project is a joint effort between Laidlaw Energy Group and EcoPower LLC, a local business whose principals have extensive experience in the development and operations of biomass-energy facilities. Basic Energy, with whom Laidlaw has an existing development relationship in connection with its New York biomass-energy project has agreed to partner with Laidlaw in this project and provide the requisite financing. Basic’s principal owner is a highly experienced international power developer with a portfolio of over 1,200 megawatts of generation and is also owner a large electric utility in the Caribbean.

The acquisition is subject to documentation and the completion of Laidlaw’s due diligence. It is expected to close within the next several months.

The reconfigured Berlin biomass-energy facility is expected to commence operations in late 2008.

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