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How would N.H. pay for its own green energy transmission? A couple of serious biomass power projects seem viable in Coos County.

Besides Noble Energy's proposed 99-megawatt project of 33 windmills in Coos County, at least one other renewable energy project remains very viable.

Laidlaw EcoPower plans to convert the boiler at the defunct Fraser Papers mill in Berlin into a 60-megawatt wood-fired power plant.

And while the capacity of existing transmission lines allow for only another 100 megawatts, former Congressman Charlie Bass, a consultant to Laidlaw, said both projects can bring their power to market after making affordable upgrades to the existing power lines. For one thing, the 99-megawatt wind farm will generate less power when the wind is calm.

But Bass warned that other proposed projects could be stranded unless the major investment in transmission are made.

Clean Power Development in Concord is planning a competing 28-megawatt biomass plant in Berlin on land beside the city's water treatment plant, according to Bill Gabler, government affairs director for Clean Power.

His firm also is researching the feasibility of a biomass plant in Lancaster inside the Coos County transmission loop, as well as two biomass projects in parts of the state with ample power lines: a wood-fired cogeneration power plant for the Anheuser-Bush brewery in Merrimack and one in Winchester next to the town's water treatment plant.

Meanwhile, a next state law creates a commission tO study the North County transmission problem and make recommendations by the end of the year so the next Legislature can act on them. The task force would likely consider letting Public Service of New Hampshire build a North County plant--a goal the regulated utility has pursued for several years. Another option is one being pioneered in California--build a big transmission line at ratepayer expense and let future solar and geothermal power plants pay for their share of capacity. A third choice might be a full-court-press lobbying campaign selling the rest of New England on sharing the cost of building some New Hampshire power lines, since much of the power would be used by consumers in the other five slates.
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Title Annotation:New Hampshire
Author:Dornin, Chris
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:333
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