Berlin city leaders support wind-turbine project on Jericho Mountain
BERLIN — The City That Trees Built is welcoming wind power, and specifically plans to place as many as six electricity-generating turbines atop Jericho Mountain.
On Tuesday, Gordon L. Deane, president of Cohasset, Mass.-based Palmer Capital Corporation and Palmer Management Corporation, which own Jericho Power LLC, said the turbines are expected to begin producing power in the third quarter of 2015.
Deane said Public Service of New Hampshire has agreed to accept about 12 megawatts from Jericho Power, which means that only five of the six turbines, may be built.
He said that Jericho Power and the City of Berlin have had “a conversation back and forth” trying to negotiate a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement and are continuing to work on it.
An employee of Palmer Capital for more than 33 years, Deane said his company has cumulatively financed about $2 billion worth of energy projects and has done “community wind-based” ones like that planned for Jericho Mountain in both Scituate and Fair Haven, Mass.
Palmer Corp. is the third entity to try to make a go of wind power on the mountain, and is doing so on two separate private parcels, each of which would be home to three, 250-foot tall turbines, said Deane.
He said his company has all the required permitting for one parcel and will be seeking approvals for the second. Additionally — after having seen the kind of snafus that wind-power projects have run into in the Newfound area — Deane said Jericho Power has worked with both the Berlin Fire Department and the state Fire Marshal’s Office on fire-suppression issues.
“We try to be proactive,” Deane said. He said he has found “strong support” that Jericho Power has received from Berlin.
Pamela Laflamme, Berlin’s community development director, said the idea of wind power in the city has been around since 2006.
At several public hearings, there has been just one dissenting voice, she said.
Overall, the city’s leaders “just want to see the towers up and running,” said Laflamme.
“There is controversy around the state about wind power, but not here,” she said.
The Jericho Mountain towers will be largely out of sight from downtown Berlin and the closest tower will be a mile away from the closest residence, said Laflamme.
“People will see them in some places,” Laflamme said “But they won’t look as imposing as they do in other places because we have some pretty mountainous terrain.”
The benefit of the Jericho Power project to Berlin is an obvious one, said Laflamme.
“It’ll increase revenue for our property base, which is nice,” she said, and it’ll also further establish Berlin’s pedigree as the city that creates clean energy, albeit energy that is sent into the regional power grid and used elsewhere. Currently, there are several hydro-electric dams on the Androscoggin River in Berlin, which will also boast the Burgess bio-power plant that is expected to come online soon.
Jericho Power, Laflamme said, “just fits in with the idea of energy that we export to other areas and we haven’t had any real complaints, issues or hurdles with it.”