Berlin Station financing complete, construction to begin

By Matt Soberg | September 08, 2011

Despite prior contractual and opposition difficulties, Cate Street Capital closed financing on the Berlin Station, a $275 million biomass power project in Berlin, N.H., and construction is scheduled to begin immediately. 

“This is a significant milestone for Berlin Station, but also for the state of New Hampshire, particularly Berlin and the North Country,” said Cate Street Capital President John Hallé in a news release. Hallé specifically thanked the strong leadership of New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch and other local government leaders for their support toward the success of the project. “All these leaders played key roles in moving Berlin Station forward,” Hallé said.   

All governmental permitting and regulations have been completed, and the 75-megawatt facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2013. The developers have reached a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to sell the Berlin Station power to Public Service Co. of New Hampshire (PSNH), which is a victory in light of the prior barriers presented to the project by PPA negotiations. 

 “Further, we are grateful for PSNH’s patience and diligence in standing by the project as we worked to bring it to fruition, and we are looking forward to maintaining a long and successful partnership with them moving forward,” Hallé added.

The project fell on dire times this past summer when it was cancelled due the financial uncertainty created by PPA disputes that rose to the level of a Supreme Court appeal. However, Berlin Station got its second wind when the PPA issue was resolved through negotiations with Public Utilities Commission of New Hampshire and PSNH through the support and intervention of Gov. Lynch.

The Berlin Station project will create approximately 400 construction jobs and 40 permanent plant jobs while injecting approximately $25 million annually into the New Hampshire economy, according to Cate Street Captital.

The plant will rely on woody biomass as a feedstock, burning approximately 750,000 tons of wood per year.  The project hopes to further spur the economy by providing several hundred forestry-related jobs.   

Berlin Station expects to be among the largest and most environmentally advanced biomass energy plants in the Northeast. The plant will sit on the Androscoggin River in downtown Berlin on property that was formerly part of the Fraser Papers pulp mill that closed in 2006.

Cate Street Capital is a developer of renewable energy companies based in Portsmouth, N.H.