Berlin, NH, sees economic potential of timber as fuel

02/17/09 11:11AM

The decades-long decline of the local paper industry finally did in Berlin, N.H.'s smoke-belching pulp mill in 2006.

Today, the thousands of acres of surrounding forest have some eyeing the city as a future renewable energy hub. The economic stimulus bill passed by Congress is expected to make billions of dollars available for homegrown, renewable energy and has residents of this small city 80 miles from the Canadian border sensing a turnaround.

Two electricity plants that would burn waste timber from the surrounding forest are in the works, as is a plant that would make the wood pellets used as fuel. But the area needs costly transmission line upgrades before the power plants can be fired up.

Company officials say jobs in the plants will indirectly create 700 more jobs over time.

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