Feds Fine Original Developer Of Berlin Biomass Plant $3 Million

Apr 4, 2016

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Michael Bartoszek, the original developer of the Berlin biomass plant, has agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission $3 million to settle charges he violated regulations, including misleading investors about the prospects and financial condition of his company, Laidlaw Energy Group.

Bartoszek has not admitted  any wrongdoing, but has agreed to pay a fine and not to file an appeal.

Late last week a federal judge in New York ruled that fine should total about  $3 million.

Bartoszek came up with the idea of turning the site of a former paper mill into a huge, biomass plant producing electricity for Public Service of New Hampshire.

The Public Utility Commission staff and the state’s Consumer Advocate said it was a bad deal for consumers, who would be paying too much for electricity under the 20-year deal.

Its advocates included Public Service of New Hampshire, Berlin officials and the forestry industry.

The PUC did approve the project and in 2011 Bartoszek sold it to Cate Street Capital in Portsmouth. It now operates as Burgess BioPower.

Meredith Hatfield, the consumer advocate who opposed the project, was not re-appointed by the Republican controlled Executive Council, a decision lamented at the time by Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who said she had been good for consumers.