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SEC to hold hearing in Berlin on biomass and wind projects

BERLIN – The N.H. Site Evaluation Committee will hold a public meeting in Berlin city hall at 9 a.m. on Jan. 10 to hear motions filed by the owners of the Burgess BioPower biomass project and the Jericho Power wind farm.

Last month, Berlin Station filed a motion to amend the original site certificate for its 75-megawatt biomass plant to reflect the elimination of the river walk, reduced fencing needs, changes in the wood yard configuration, and a revised landscaping plan.

Berlin Station is seeking SEC’s approval for the reconfiguration of the wood yard that is already under way. It proposes the use of an A-frame overhead stack-out conveyer and an under-pile reclaim conveyor system. There will also be a shift of the processing building about 250 feet to the south with the installment of a set of two conveyors to handle incoming woodchips and stack out to piles. The company states the overall footprint of the wood yard and type of equipment will be generally consistent with the original plan.

With the city council’s support, Berlin Station is proposing to eliminate plans for a river walk on the east bank of the Androscoggin River. The river walk was one of a number of stipulations that grew out of discussions between a local committee and then project developer, Laidlaw Berlin BioPower. The city agreed with the stipulations and the SEC included them in the certificate of site for the project. The city and Berlin Station now argue a river walk would not make sense because neither party owns land along the north end of the site and as a result the walk would dead end. They also point out that sections of the proposed route are too steep and close to industrial equipment for such a walk. Eliminating the river walk would reduce the need for some fencing.

In exchange for dropping the river walk and reducing fencing needs, the city would receive a minimum of $650,000 that would have been spent on the river walk and fencing.

Berlin Station is also seeking approval to revise the landscaping plan for the property. The city determined the plan submitted by Berlin Station a year ago is impractical because some of the areas proposed for plantings are not suitable for various reasons such as the presence of ledge.

Jericho Power LLC is asking the SEC to rule that it does not need to go through the site evaluation commission process for its proposal to put three wind turbines on the western slope of Jericho Mountain in Berlin. Jericho Power has taken over the project from Jericho Mountain Wind Company, which obtained planning and zoning board approval in 2009 for four 400-foot high towers. Jericho Power is asking the two boards to amend their original approval to decrease the number of towers to three but to increase the height to 500 feet. The project would have a capacity between 4.95 and 8.55 megawatts. Both boards have public hearings on the issue scheduled for January.

People wishing to intervene in either matter must file a motion by Jan. 3. Objections to motions to intervene must be filed by Jan. 10. The motions will be considered at the Jan. 10 meeting. The city council has already voted to file as an intervenor in the Berlin Station matter.