Tag Archives: gainesville

[NEWS] Gainesville, Florida City Commission Votes to Buy Biomass Facility for $750M

– August 24, 2017, WCJB

gainesville city wcjbGainesville City Commissioners have decided to pull the trigger and the people who own the controversial biomass plant are getting a powerball-sized payday.

The negotiation to buy a controversial bio mass plant has been in the works for several months with a price tag of 750 million dollars.

“Price is just one variable. The other part of the variable is interest rate and the other variable is the vehicle by which you use to get the financing,” said Edward Bielarski Jr. of Gainesville Regional Utilities.

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[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, FL Utility and Biomass Officials Agree on $750M Buyout

– by Andrew Caplan, March 22, 2017, Gainesville Sun

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Photo: wuft.org

After months of back-and-forth negotiations, Gainesville Regional Utilities and biomass plant officials have reached an agreement regarding the city’s acquisition of the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center.

A signed memorandum of understanding (MOU), which bears GRU General Manager Ed Bielarski and biomass plant President Jim Gordon’s signatures, shows the two sides have officially agreed on a $750 million price tag for the GREC facility, located at 11201 NW 13th St.

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[NEWS] Utility Offers $750M to Buy Gainesville, FL Biomass Facility

– by Andrew Caplan, February 24, 2017, Gainesville Sun

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Photo: wuft.org

Gainesville Regional Utilities officials confirmed Friday that they’ve sent a proposal to the biomass plant’s president, Jim Gordon, offering $750 million to buy the plant outright.

GRU General Manager Ed Bielarski sent The Sun a copy of the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) and said biomass plant officials haven’t agreed to the deal, nor has it been discussed publicly.

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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] 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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[NEWS] Trial Begins for Wood Supplier’s Lawsuit Against Gainesville Biomass

– by Ethan Magoc, May 2, 2016, WUFT

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Photo: Ethan Magoc / WUFT

Is Wood Resource Recovery a “mom and pop” tree clearing business victimized by Gainesville’s biomass plant operator?

Or did the Gainesville company simply bite off more than it could chew when it signed a 2010 contract with Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC)?

Judge Monica J. Brasington on Monday heard opening arguments and testimony in a trial that will determine the $17.4 million answer to those conflicting questions. Brasington will decide in the non-jury trial whether or not Wood Resource Recovery is entitled to that amount in damages.

For background: Gainesville Regional Utilities in 2009 signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with American Renewables, a company that then built a $500 million plant that converts biomass to electricity for the public utility. To produce that electricity, GREC annually requires hundreds of thousands of tons of wood chopped into small pieces. Wood Resource Recovery gathered and supplied that processed wood for GREC in 2013 and 2014 as the plant began operating.

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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.

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