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Developer says proposed LNG plant in Groveton 'on hold'

Union Leader Correspondent

July 27. 2014 7:34PM

Plans to build a $100 million liquefied-natural gas (LNG) production plant in Groveton Village are on “hold,” according to the developer, Clear Energy of Marlborough, Mass.

“We’re re-evaluating the project and working with issues that have arisen with the state of New Hampshire,” said Evan Coleman, Clear Energy’s chief operating officer. Coleman would not elaborate Sunday on what those issues are, but said more information may be forthcoming from Clear Energy by mid-August.

Hailed by local and state officials alike, a ground-breaking ceremony for the Groveton LNG facility had been tentatively scheduled for this spring or early summer. The plant was expected to be operational sometime in 2015.

In late April, Coleman said that due to demand, the plant’s initial output would be increased by a third, with the potential creation of 15 additional jobs.

The 67-acre parcel is on the grounds of the former Wausau paper mill’s wastewater treatment lagoons. The LNG plant — which Clear Energy would build and then sell to another party which would operate it — is expected to bring more than 80 jobs to Groveton village, nearly all of them for truck drivers, with a starting pay rate of $19 per hour.

The plant is projected to generate $1.7 million annually in property taxes, which could effectively cut Northumberland’s municipal tax rate in half. Additionally, Clear Energy pledged to make a $100,000 annual charitable donation for 15 years to the town.

The plant could make up to 600,000 gallons of LNG daily, with most of the output destined for customers in southern New England but also for fueling stations in the North Country and nearby Vermont.

One of the fueling stations had been proposed to be located at Gorham Paper and Tissue, which CEO Michael Cummings said would help offset seasonal spikes in the cost of natural gas which this past winter forced GPAT to curtail production and lay off 25 employees.

State Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, on Sunday said while Clear Energy’s announcement about the LNG plant was unfortunate, it represents only a “bump in the road.”

“It’s important not to get too focused on one developer or one use and to be more open of other proposals,” said Woodburn. The senator said the current property owners have “greatly improved” the site.

“Every day, that site is better than it was and more valuable, and I think the right buyer will emerge.”

Woodburn said the state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development is pursuing some leads for the site.

“If Evan (Coleman) comes back, that’s fine, too,” Woodburn said of Clear Energy’s CEO, but “he may have to get in line.”

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