Gretna plans bioenergy plant

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A $250-million bioenergy plant is planned for a 100-acre site in the Gretna Industrial Park on State Road 12, Gadsden County and city of Gretna officials announced Wednesday afternoon

The facility, a development of bioenergy company Adage, will produce 50 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 40,000 homes. The plant and its associated fuel operations will have a permanent staff of up to 150, but the construction will require employment of 478 workers. The construction is expected to take 21/2 years.

“We are proud to partner with Adage, create jobs, and keep our city and county at the forefront of Florida’s clean-energy future,” Gretna Mayor Anthony J. Baker told the gathering of officials and business leaders at city hall.

Gadsden County Commission Chairman Eugene Lamb Jr. credited the efforts of the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce and local leaders with bringing the facility to the community.

“We are proud to be here today. This project marks new jobs here in Gadsden County. The project will have a regional impact, utilizing local clean wood waste and residue to make new energy,” Lamb said, noting the boost to economic development in the area.

“This is what Christmas is all about,” said State Rep. Alan Williams, whose district includes Gretna. “Sometimes it’s better to give than to receive. This time, it’s better to receive than to give.”

Williams said the bioenergy plant, which will get its fuel from the region’s forest industry, will utilize cutting-edge combustion technology and advanced emission controls. “One of the most exciting things about this proposed facility is how green it is,” Williams said.

The potential for more local employment comes at a time when Gadsden leads the four-county area with 9.4 percent unemployment. “During these challenging economic times, it is critical to Gadsden County that we have a positive, credible, forward-looking and sustainable partner in renewal energy,” said David Gardner, executive director of the chamber of commerce. “We are excited about the opportunities Adage presents to our county and our workforce, and we are pleased to support this facility and the economic development it will provide.”

Reed Wills, president of Adage, said the Gretna plant will be similar to one Adage is building in Hamilton County. He expects the Gretna plant to begin producing electricity by the end of 2012, with a plan to interconnect with Talquin Electric Cooperative’s system.

A $150-million biomass plant was also proposed for a site on Tallahassee’s south side, but developer Biomass Gas & Electric withdrew its proposal in January in the face of local opposition to the location, which was near a residential neighborhood.

Gardner said Wednesday’s announcement in Gretna was the culmination of three years’ worth of effort, including the determination of an appropriate site and building community support.

“We feel we have an excellent place to invest and to do business,” said Wills.

Adage is a joint venture between power plant builder Areva and electric utility Duke Energy Corp. It is the first biopower partnership in the U.S. between major energy companies.

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