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July 13. 2014 8:08PM

Power outage knocks machine offline at Gorham Paper and Tissue

GORHAM — Already struggling with decreased demand for its products that led to layoffs last December, Gorham Paper and Tissue experienced some more bad luck recently when a power outage knocked one of its paper-making machines offline.

A power outage on July 8, traced to the failure of lines and equipment at a substation in Littleton, affected some 21,000 customers in the North Country, Public Service of New Hampshire said.

Mike Cummings, who is the chief executive officer of Gorham Paper and Tissue, said in a telephone message to the Union Leader on July 11, that the facility, which had been down for the Independence Day weekend, was part of the outage and as a result of it “we had electrical damage to our paper machine and it’s taken us a while to get it repaired.”

As of Friday, the machine had not been repaired.

“We’re working diligently to replace damaged electrical components,” he said. “The supplier is in Italy and it’s difficult to get replacement parts at this time.”

Having the machine offline adds to other recent challenges for the company.

In April, Cummings told the Union Leader that GP&T – which was once one of the largest employers in Gorham — permanently laid off 25 unionized employees in January while reducing most of the hourly work force to fewer than 40 hours a week, due to the soaring price of natural gas that it uses to operate its paper-making machinery.

To address the cost of the energy it needs, GP&T is working with Clear Energy of Marlborough, Mass., which in February presented plans for a liquefied-natural-gas manufacturing plant in Groveton village in Northumberland that could produce up to 400,000 gallons of LNG per day. The plans also include construction of two LNG fueling stations for dual-fuel trucks as well as four LNG storage facilities, one of each would be built at GP&T.

Cummings has said that being able to use the LNG during the winter would help GP&T offset seasonal spikes in the cost of natural gas.

While he previously acknowledged that the American paper-making industry is currently in a tough spot, having shrunk by between 25 and 33 percent over the past 15 years, Cummings said GP&T has tried to anticipate demand and toward that end, had purchased and installed a new paper-making machine.

GP&T, he added, was also “close to where the trees are” that are used for that and other products.

jkoziol@newstote.com


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