$50 million biomass plant.
The Richmond, Va.-based company is proposing a $50 million, 15-megawatt energy plant at a former Owens-Illinois plastic bottle factory in Las Piedras. The plant will process 150-180 tons of biomass debris a year. Officials hope to sell the power the plant produces to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and will pay municipal governments, government agencies and private entities for the "fuel" needed to produce the matter, which is basically plant and animal byproducts, including vegetable and wood-based debris.
"We started to take a look at Puerto Rico in 2009 because of the island's heavy reliance on imported fuel to create energy and because there was no beneficial use for the substantial supply of vegetative biomass," said Brandon Ogilvie, Recast Energy's chief financial officer;
Ogilvie said the firm is proposing energy rates to Prepa that are "competitive" against recent wind and solar energy pacts the public corporation has made. Puerto Rico is running out of room in its existing landfills, which is driving up the cost of waste disposal, and since 2003, municipalities have been barred from depositing vegetative debris inmunicipal landfills, said Marinho Goncalves, regional manager of Recast's biomass supply;
Recast says it will pay towns to supply its energy plant with their biomass debris. Government agencies from the Department of Transportation & Public Works and Prepa are also likely clients because of the need to clear land areas for highway projects or to trim trees around power lines. Private agricultural enterprises and construction firms are also likely sources of biomass;
Storm debris could also provide another steady supply of biomass for the project. Recast says all biomass fuel used in the plant will be sourced in Puerto Rico, and there will be no imports from offshore. Goncalves said the plant would use just 15% of Puerto Rico's annual biomass supply, which he said shows there is ample room for further growth of biomass energy development locally. With 45 employees and $25 million in total assets, the company runs three wholly owned biomass energy-generation facilities in Kentucky, Mississippi and the Dominican Republic.