State Using PUC and Eversource to Prop up The North Country

by Steve MacDonald

berlin biomassNew Hampshire Business review has an enlightening–though not surprising–article today about how a PUC-approved contract from 2011 requires Eversource customers to prop up the NH timber industry and the Berlin Biomass Plant.

It is “probable” that sometime in 2019 customers who buy their electricity from Eversource will have paid $100 million more than necessary since 2014 because the energy came from the Berlin biomass plant instead of the open market.

Yes, there appears to be some high-profile backscratching. Yes, forcing electricity providers to meet pointless political green energy targets set by the Democrat-passed renewable energy portfolio are at fault. Yes, north country politicians itching to keep jobs up north (and their water-carriers) applied pressure. And in the end, Eversource, then PSNH, went with the contract which the PUC approved, putting New Hampshire ratepayers on the hook for tens of millions, probably hundreds of millions, for overpriced electricity.

Must be time to dig up all those old Jeanne Shaheen quotes about what a great idea biomass is for our energy future.

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  • Herb

    Part of the story was left out of the article in NH Business Review. Laidlaw Energy Group (Laidlaw Berlin Biopower) , mentioned in the article as the “developer” of the project, suckered many people in the North Country into investing in worthless Laidlaw stock. The president of the company, Michael Bartoszek, was sued by the SEC and later convicted of insider trading and fined $3.1 million. A second company trying to build a biomass plant in Berlin had a study done showing any plant over 17 MW wouldn’t be feasible and would end up producing expensive power. The state and PSNH ignored the report and went ahead with the 75MW plant.

    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20080401005631/en/Laidlaw-Reaches-Agreement-Financing-Berlin-NH-Biomass-Energy

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-sec-insidertrading-microcap-idUSKCN0WX2A1

  • Herb
  • Herb

    One other thing. I’ve been told by local cord wood dealers the Berlin Plant has driven up the cost of cord wood used by many in NH to heat their homes. Timber cutters find it easier and more profitable to make chips to supply the power plants at Berlin and Newington than supply the cord wood dealers with grapple truck loads of logs. This increase in the price of cord wood hasn’t been mentioned in any of the articles I’ve read.

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