No Council

Not enough councilors showed up for quorum tonight, so there was no meeting. There was some interesting discussion to be had, regarding the city deciding to borrow from Laconia Savings Bank instead of with the municipal bond bank, and priorities for the next budget cycle. Unfortunately no decisions could be made.
Tomorrow is the BIDPA meeting, and WREN is on the agenda. I’m interested to hear what the members who visited last week have to say to the rest of the board. I talked to one member who said they’d like to see WREN move in immediately, but they also don’t want to lose money on the building. It was an investment, after all.
But inviting WREN would also be an investment.

I spent the weekend going back and forth between Berlin and North Conway, much more so than I usually do. Normally I travel between Berlin and Glen and never make it down to the more sprawl-covered section of town. But this weekend, for some reason, I had to travel south, and what I noticed surprised me.
The distance from Boston or New York to North Conway in many ways is less than the distance from Glen to Berlin. It makes me laugh that all these people want to escape the city, and Conway and Bartlett are where they go. The area certainly has appeal for me, but it has nothing to do with escaping the rat-race. Car after car comes north, and they stop in Conway instead of continuing north.

Someone at the WREN meeting used the word traffic combined with Berlin and I couldn’t hold in the laugh. There are seldom more than a dozen cars stopped at any light, and sometimes that’s in all directions. It is something out of a different era, and even the people living in it don’t realize it.
Even from Gorham to Berlin, the change is evident. Personally, while I love Libby’s, the White Mountain Cafe and some of the other stores and restaurants, the Burger King, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s leave a bit to be desired. Berlin is largely free of the McCulture spreading around the country, and it is better off for it.
I know a few people who bounce in and out of Berlin, spending both a significant amount of their time in the city and away. All of them have a positive perspective on the city. They look and see the things they are happy to see missing, not just the things they wish were there. And they see the new businesses on Main Street and they have hope that the parts they want can come without the parts they don’t.
People who never leave or never visit, however, are the ones who need convincing. Numerous people have said the attitude has to change in Berlin before it can change afar. But the people from afar need only to spend some time in Berlin to see how much of a treasure it is. They will be far easier to convince. It is the people that never leave and have grown accustomed to deriding the city that need the a reorientation.

11 thoughts on “No Council

  1. transcript of Clean Power complaint against PSNHhttp://www.puc.state.nh.us/Regulatory/CaseFile/2009/09-067/TRANSCRIPTS-OFFICIAL%20EXHIBITS-CLERKS%20REPORT/09-067%202009-11-13%20Transcript%20of%2011-3-09%20hearing.pdf

  2. And here's the key part, which corresponds exactly with what Laidlaw had been saying all along, which is that it had a term sheet with PSNH, and directly contradicts Bill's recollection:"Are we negotiating with Laidlaw? Yes, we are. Did we have a — and I guess you could call it a "term sheet" with them? Yes. We weren't going to enter into long-term negotiations with anybody for anything, whether it's a power purchase agreement or whether it's a scrubber or something, unless we have some kind of a basis for those negotiations to, you know, the framework of it. But it's not a deal, it's a term sheet. It's an understanding. Unless and until we reach agreement with Laidlaw, there is no contract. Any such contract that may ultimately be agreed upon would certainly be subject to various conditions, including, number one, that they get the permitting and everything that's necessary to build their plant, and, number two, this Commission's approval of the deal. So, you know, to the extent that people are comparing it to the "Laidlaw deal", the Laidlaw deal is, I guess, a twinkle in Laidlaw's eyes at this point. But, you know, we continue to negotiate. And, will we reach a deal? If both parties can, yes; if not, then, no."- Cliff Myers

  3. My guess is that Cliff won’t be able to produce anything where Laidlaw stated they have a “term sheet” with PSNH because like Laidlaws claimed 20-year contract with PSNH, it’s a twinkle in his eye.

  4. Laidlaw Reaches Agreement with Public Service Company of New Hampshire for Power Purchase Agreement for New Hampshire Biomass ProjectMANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE–(BUSINESS WIRE)– September 29, 2008—Laidlaw Energy Group, Inc. (Ticker Symbol “LLEG”), through its affiliate, Laidlaw Berlin BioPower, LLC (“Laidlaw”), announced today that it has reached agreement with Public Service Company of New Hampshire (“PSNH”) on the material terms of a contemplated 20-year power purchase agreement for Laidlaw’s Berlin, New Hampshire Biomass Energy Project (the “Berlin Project”). The agreement between the parties contemplates the sale of 100% of the Berlin Project’s electric output, capacity and renewable energy certificates to PSNH over the 20-year term. The Berlin Project is expected to have a gross capacity of 66 megawatts, making it one of the largest biomass-energy plants in North America. Commenting on the arrangement, Laidlaw President and CEO Michael Bartoszek stated, “This is an important milestone in the development of the Berlin Project. Having a guaranteed source of revenue over the term of this agreement from a highly credit-worthy customer like PSNH adds tremendous value to this project. We look forward to being an important part of New Hampshire’s energy future as the state shifts toward renewable electricity generation to meet its Renewable Portfolio Standard and greenhouse gas commitments.”The agreement between the parties is subject to the execution of a definitive power purchase agreement, as well as approval by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.“The development of new native sources of renewable energy is essential for New Hampshire’s energy future,” said Gary Long, PSNH president and chief operating officer. “The purchase of power from the Berlin Project will help us to meet the requirements of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and add to our portfolio of CO2-neutral energy sources.”notice the following statements: "…material terms of a contemplated 20-year power purchase agreement for Laidlaw’s Berlin.. "The agreement between the parties contemplates the sale of 100% of the Berlin Project’s electric output, capacity and renewable energy certificates to PSNH over the 20-year term.""The agreement between the parties is subject to the execution of a definitive power purchase agreement, as well as approval by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission."That sounds pretty clear to me. An agreement on "Material Terms" as opposed to a completed and signed power purchase agreement are two completely different things.

  5. I do think it's meaningful that supporters of Clean Power Development continually make claims for which they can provide absolutely no documentation (such as Bill's faulty recollections from the PUC hearing), while those that defend Laidlaw meticulously document all their claims with specific citations. Maybe this is because CPD cannot actually point to any facts that support building a money-losing operation that can't find a buyer for its expensive power?- Cliff Myers

  6. God I love Cliff. He's a real Laidlaw chearleader. Go LLEG! Go LLEG! So, I guess what Cliff is trying to tell people in the cheap seats is that the PR about the power purchase agreement was a well spun statment that basically says, "The PPA is just a twinkle in Bartoszek's eye." Laidlaw continues to be a bad joke on Berlin, NH.

  7. “Commenting on the arrangement, Laidlaw President and CEO Michael Bartoszek stated, “This is an important milestone in the development of the Berlin Project. Having a guaranteed source of revenue over the term of this agreement from a highly credit-worthy customer like PSNH adds tremendous value to this project.”In his own words, “Having a guaranteed source of revenue over the term of this agreement”Yet he doesn’t.Put any fancy spin on it you want, it’s not the truth.

  8. We should all be Laidlaw cheerleaders! According to Jon Edwards, Laidlaw's looming presence has already increased what North Country wood producers get paid for their product. In other words, without even putting a shovel into the ground, Laidlaw is already having a beneficial effect on our region's economy. This development apparently puts North Country citizens' economic interests at odds with Clean Power Development's, as CPD needs to keep the market price of wood chips artificially low to have even a remote chance of being able to afford to run their plant.- Cliff Myers

  9. Sigh…I must admit it does get a bit tedious to keep pointing back to the same Laidlaw/PSNH joint announcement again and again to rebut your…well, I hesitate to call them "points" because they really aren't. Here it is again for the umpteenth time:"The agreement between the parties is subject to the execution of a definitive power purchase agreement, as well as approval by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission."That's what you might call a "caveat".I'm curious, though, are you unable to read the announcement or just refuse to do so?- Cliff Myers

  10. On an earlier thread, Erik writes:“I did talk to Pat MacQueen, the city manager yesterday, who confirmed my report from the PUC, that PSNH's lawyer said Laidlaw didn't have an agreement. He said he felt it was much different than what Laidlaw had led people to believe.Mr. MacQueen also said Laidlaw had taken at approach in the city he couldn't understand. He said perhaps it works in New York, but it had turned people off in Berlin.”Contrary to Mr. MacQueen’s assertion, the transcript from the hearing shows that PSNH’s lawyer confirmed that an agreement does indeed exist between PSNH and Laidlaw. Mr. MacQueen may have “felt it was much different than what Laidlaw had led people to believe”, but he can only feel that way if he ignored the joint PSNH/Laidlaw announcement of September 2008 that described exactly what the agreement was, which was on material terms subject to the execution of a power purchase agreement and the approval of the PUC. It was all there in black and white, and Mr. MacQueen apparently chose to ignore it.I understand that Mr. MacQueen is not an elected official, but maybe he should take some time to try to figure out what the voters of Berlin might have been saying about the approach the City took toward Laidlaw. He must be aware of some of the low moments of the Bertrand Administration. For example, according to the Berlin Daily Sun, Mayor Bertrand dispatched Economic Development Director Norm Charest soon after he took office to investigate the CPD and Laidlaw project plans. Did Mr. Charest ever produce a report? If so, where is it? If not, what happened to the investigation? Did Mr. MacQueen ever ask?According to more than a couple Berlin residents that have had lengthy discussions with Laidlaw officials, Laidlaw approached the City of Berlin on multiple occasions and offered to place the portion of the mill property that they would not need into a nonprofit trust controlled in part by the City to use for economic development. The Bertrand Administration simply ignored the offer. Does Mr. MacQueen believe that this was an appropriate action for the City to take?According to the Berlin Daily Sun, Laidlaw more recently offered to let the City use some of its land for a parking area to alleviate a dangerous situation near its property. The Bertrand Administration rejected the offer out of hand, which in my opinion was a monumental political blunder that cost Bertrand votes in the election. Does Mr. MacQueen think that the City is better off with the parking status quo?Finally, the Bertrand Administration hired Clean Power’s attorney to represent the City in Laidlaw’s EFSEC proceeding. Could there be a more breathtaking display of bad faith by the City? Does Mr. MacQueen think that’s an appropriate way to encourage a constructive relationship?Mr. MacQueen ignores the simple fact that Laidlaw reached out to the Bertrand Administration again and again only to be aggressively rebuffed. He apparently thinks that Laidlaw’s response, which was to recognize that the Administration was out of step with the citizens of Berlin and collect over 2,000 petitions of support to prove it, was some sort of Big City trick, when of course it was precisely the opposite. Mr. MacQueen and Mayor Bertrand should’ve been able to recognize that they were at odds with Berlin citizens and sought to work in good faith with Laidlaw. They didn’t, and it cost the Mayor his job.Exit questions: Did Mr. MacQueen advise the Bertrand Administration to allow Mr. Charest to ignore their order to review the Laidlaw and CPD projects? Did he advise them to ignore Laidlaw’s land trust offer? Did he advise them to reject Laidlaw’s parking lot offer? Did he advise them to hire CPD’s lawyer to represent the City in Laidlaw’s EFSEC proceeding in what any reasonable person would conclude is a gross conflict of interest? At any time, did Mr. MacQueen ever urge the Bertrand Administration to deal with Laidlaw in good faith?- Cliff Myers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s