Tag Archives: florida

[NEWS] Gainesville, Biomass Company Rejects City’s Offer to Purchase Facility

– by Andrew Caplan, April 7, 2017, Gainesville Sun

GREC-woodpile-1After a lengthy debate over what the city of Gainesville should do with the biomass plant, commissioners voted 4-3 to listen to its Utility Advisory Board and lower its $750 million offer for the facility by $75 million.

In less than 12 hours from that decision, Gainesville Renewable Energy Center president Jim Gordon rejected the offer.

He was brief in his response to Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Ed Bielarski.

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[NEWS] Gainesville, Florida Utility Eager to Discuss Biomass Buy

– by Andrew Caplan, February 2, 2017, Gainesville Sun

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Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (Photo: GRU)

Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Ed Bielarski said Thursday he’s “extremely motivated” by potential savings to utility customers he says might be realized if GRU bought the controversial biomass plant.

Gainesville residents have paid the price — via hefty power bills — in recent years for the city and municipal-owned utility agreeing to terms with the owners of the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center biomass plant.

Bielarski responded to questions Thursday about a potential purchase of the plant, often called GREC, as a way to “make up” for city and GRU officials agreeing several years ago to what they consider an unfavorable deal — perhaps saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.

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[NEWS] Gainesville, FL Biomass Facility Spills 9,000 Gallons of Wastewater

– October 3, 2016, Gainesville Sun

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Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (Photo: GRU)

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, or GREC, announced late Monday afternoon that it accidentally discharged some 9,000 gallons of industrial-process water onto the ground.

The water, which contained a higher concentration of minerals than the water the plant uses to make power, spilled because of a power outage that led to an equipment failure at the biomass plant, according to a report by Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Department.

The 9,225 gallons would ordinarily have been pumped to a cooling tower basin, but instead mostly flowed to a storm water retention pond, company officials said.

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[NEWS] Gainesville, FL Brings Biomass Facility Back Online After Coal Facility Breakdown

– by Andrew Caplan, October 3, 2016, Gainesville Sun

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Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (Photo: GRU)

Gainesville Regional Utilities has switched back to biomass as the city’s main energy source after a mechanical failure at the municipal utility’s Deerhaven coal plant.

The switch was already in the works due to a previous issue, GRU officials said, but Thursday’s failure — which affected the emission control system — hurried the transition.

The issue occurred at the back end of Deerhaven Unit Two, said officials. No customer power outages occurred as a result.

“We’re still assessing the significance of it,” said Dino De Leo, GRU’s energy supply officer.

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[NEWS] Ethanol Facilities for Sale in Florida and Arkansas

– by Erin Voegele, September 7, 2016, Ethanol Producer Magazine

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Photo: Ineos Bio

Ineos Bio has announced its intent to sell its ethanol business, including the Ineos New Planet BioEnergy demonstration plant in Vero Beach, Florida, and the Ineos Bio USA Research Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, via a bid process targeting year end completion. The company said it has received expressions of interest from a number of potential suitors, is progressing negotiations, and hopes to make a decision on bidders and sale by the end of the year.

In a statement, Ineos Bio said the U.S. market for ethanol has changed and the economic drivers for development of the technology by Ineos are no longer aligned with the company’s strategic objectives. As a result, the company intends to sell its ethanol business.

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[NEWS] Is Trash Incineration Recycling?

– by Skyler Swisher, July 25, 2016, Sun Sentinel

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Photo: Sun Sentinel

A new energy-producing incinerator is helping Palm Beach County reach a state goal of recycling 75 percent of its waste by 2020, according to a state report released Monday.

Palm Beach County’s recycling rate stood at 72 percent in 2015, tied for the second highest in the state, thanks in large part to a $672 million waste-to-energy plant that came online in June 2015, according to the report.

The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County expects to reach the state goal next year, said Willie Puz, an agency spokesman.

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[NEWS] Dept. of Energy Announces $15 Million to Advance Algae Biofuels

– July 16, 2016, EIN Newsdesk

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Photo: National Algae Association

The Energy Department today announced up to $15 million for three projects aimed at reducing the production costs of algae-based biofuels and bioproducts through improvements in algal biomass yields. These projects will develop highly productive algal cultivation systems and couple those systems with effective, energy-efficient, and low-cost harvest and processing technologies. This funding will advance the research and development of advanced biofuel technologies to speed the commercialization of renewable, domestically produced, and affordable fossil-fuel replacements.

The three projects selected, located in California and Florida, will include multi-disciplinary partners to coordinate improvements from algal strain advancements through pre-processing technologies (harvesting, dewatering, and downstream processing) to biofuel intermediate in order to reduce the production costs of algal biofuels and byproducts.

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[NEWS] Gainesville, FL Biomass Facility Ordered to Pay $4.6 Million in Damages

– by Cindy Swirko, June 23, 2016, Gainesville Sun

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Photo: wuft.org

Gainesville Renewable Energy Center was ordered Thursday to pay more than $4.6 million in damages to Wood Resource Recovery in a judge’s ruling that the operator of the biomass plant violated its contract with the wood supplier.

Eighth Circuit Judge Monica Brasington found that GREC violated the contract by prohibiting Wood Resource Recovery from delivering yard waste to fuel the biomass plant even though the contract said it could be used as fuel.

GREC, however, stated in court documents that Wood Resource Recovery provided material that didn’t meet the contract’s stipulations.

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Biomass Energy Growing Pains

– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

Eagle_Valley_captionSeveral biomass power facilities have come online over the last few years in Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, and Hawaii, but not without difficulties, including fires, inefficient equipment, lawsuits, and competing with the low price of natural gas.

Gypsum, Colorado

Eagle Valley Clean Energy, an 11.5-megawatt biomass power facility in Gypsum, Colorado started operating in December 2013, only to have its conveyor belt catch fire in December 2014. Spokespersons said the facility would be back online shortly, yet as of October, it’s still offline. There have been no further media reports investigating why the facility still isn’t operating, and multiple calls and emails to the facility from The Biomass Monitor were not returned.

Another thorn in Eagle Valley’s claw is a lawsuit filed against the company in U.S. District Court in June 2015 by Wellons, Inc., an Oregon-based corporation that designed and built the biomass facility.

Wellons is suing Eagle Valley Clean Energy for $11,799,864 for breach of contract, accusing the company of “fraudulent transfers” and “civil conspiracy,” involving the transferring of $18.5 million of federal subsidies to “insider” parties in an alleged effort to hide the money. The money was issued to the facility from the federal government under Section of 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the Stimulus, involving payments to reimburse companies building renewable energy facilities.

Wellons claims that, on top of the nearly twelve million dollars Eagle Valley must pay them, they are owed past due interest of $1,185,433.56, with debt accruing at $3254.90 per day.

Another bump in the road for Eagle Valley involves the Chapter 11 bankcruptcy of the logging contractor that provides them the trees to fuel the facility, West Range Reclamation. West Range has provided nearly all of the wood to the facility since it opened, mostly from beetle-killed lodgepole pine from the White River National Forest.

Nacogdoches, Texas

Southern Power’s Nacogdoches Generating Facility, a 100-megawatt biomass power facility in Nacogdoches, Texas, opened in 2012 only to sit idle much of the time due to an inability to compete with the low price of natural gas, according to Reuters.

Rothschild, Wisconsin

In November 2013, WE Energies and Domtar Corp’s 50-megawatt biomass power facility opened in Rothschild, Wisconsin. However, it was offline from December 2014 through May 2015 for repairs, and was operational only 16% of the time during its first full year, in part due to an inability to compete with the low price of natural gas, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Gainesville, Florida

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC), a 100-megawatt biomass power facility, came online in Gainesville, Florida in 2013, and soon ran into controversy with noise complaints from neighbors.

In October 2014, the Gainesville City Commission approved an audit to look into financial transactions between Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) and GREC, which increased costs for the utility and its customers.

In April 2015, Wood Resource Recovery, one of the main fuel suppliers for GREC, sued the facility for breach of contract for $5 million in damages. Part of the complaint has to do with GREC’s refusal to take yard waste and materials from agriculturally zoned properties.

In August, the facility shut down temporarily, and when it became operational again, Gainesville Regional Utilities decided not to bring it back online, with no “projected return to service at this current time,” according to Margaret Crawford, GRU Communications Director. Instead, GRU is relying on power that is “more economic than GREC’s facility.”

In September, the city audit report uncovered that Gainesville Regional Utilities was paying $56,826 more per month than it was supposed to, totaling $900,000 in over-payments.

Koloa, Hawaii

Green Energy Team’s 7.5-megawatt biomass power facility in Koloa, Hawaii, was scheduled to start up in April 2015, but the official opening has been pushed back to November because the efficiency level from burning wood chips was lower than it should be, according to The Garden Island. The turbine was dismantled and reassembled, and is currently undergoing more testing.

Biomass Power Facilities Idle for Months

– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

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Eagle Valley Clean Energy in Gypsum, Colorado

Over the last couple of years, several biomass power facilities across the U.S. have been sitting idle for months at a time, thanks to fires, equipment failure, and competition from cheaper energy sources.

Eagle Valley Clean Energy – Gypsum, Colorado

Eagle Valley Clean Energy, an 11.5-megawatt biomass power facility in Gypsum, Colorado began operations in December 2013, only to have its conveyor belt catch fire in December 2014.

Despite assurances from facility spokespeople that they’d resume operations within a few months, the facility came back online in 2016.

While Eagle Valley’s attorney recently said they’d be up and running again by the end of the year, the Town of Gypsum might not let that happen, with town officials pointing out that the facility had been operating without a required certificate of occupancy, according to Vail Daily.

Eagle Valley has received $40 million in loan guarantees from the USDA, a portion of an annual $12.5 million matching payment for feedstock transportation from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (part of the Farm Bill), and a $250,000 biomass utilization grant.

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