July 8, 2008

Developer Seeks Variance for Billerica Power Plant

By Jennifer Myers, The Sun, Lowell, Mass.

Jul. 8--BILLERICA -- The Board of Health is taking its time in reviewing plans for the proposed Billerica Energy Center, a 348-megawatt natural gas-fired peaking power plant proposed for North Billerica.

The proponent, DG Clean Power LLC, has filed its notice of intent, with the Board of Health, Conservation Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board, to begin the local permitting phase of the project.

The developers are requesting a variance from the Board of Health for work to be done within the flood plain.

Health Director Rich Berube said the board is awaiting a report from their consulting engineer, Mike Schrader from Woodward & Curran before proceeding.

"There are a lot of issues here," Berube said. "We are going to proceed very carefully to make sure we are covering all of the bases. There is a lot of material to go through and we don't want to rush anything."

Berube added that he is not sure of the timeline, but that when a hearing on the project is scheduled it will be the only item on the board's agenda and it will be held in the Town Hall auditorium.

The Conservation Commission is expected to discuss the notice of intent on July 16, and a preliminary meeting with the Planning Board is scheduled for July 28.

In other business, the board granted approval of the plan to reconstruct the Shawsheen pump station on Brown Street.

The station is more than 30 years old and is responsible for pumping five million

gallons of water per day to the Rogers Street station and then onto the wastewater treatment plant.

Schrader said ordering the equipment and conducting the construction will take a total of about nine months. During the construction phase, a bypass system will be used to keep the pump working while it is being rebuilt.

The pump station failed in May 2007, sending sewerage backing up into the pipeline.

"We had one catastrophic failure already and put it back together with bubble gum," said wastewater treatment plant supervisor Lorraine Sander. "We really need this."

The board agreed, unanimously.


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