07/15/08 — Power plant will convert to biomass

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Power plant will convert to biomass

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 15, 2008 1:51 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A defunct coal-burning cogeneration electric power plant on N.C. 11 and 903 north of the Duplin County seat is slated to get a new life as a biomass-fired facility through an $11.3 million industrial investment that doesn't require any county incentive.

Coastal Carolina Clean Power, LLC applied to the N.C. Utilities Commission for the necessary certification in May, just a month after Fibrowatt announced plans for a $200 million biomass-burning plant near N.C. 403 and Interstate 40 in Sampson County.

However, unlike the Sampson project that will burn poultry litter, the Duplin facility will burn wood and wood waste.

It will have a maximum dependable capacity of approximately 32 megawatts of electricity.

Duplin County Manager Mike Aldridge said he learned of the project through the Eastern Carolina Council. The council consists of nine counties, including Duplin and Wayne, and is one of the state's 17 multi-county planning and development regions.

"Duplin County will benefit and without any incentive from the county," he said of the project.

Aldridge said he was unsure of the exact property value. However, just the added $11.3 million investment translates into about $86,000 for the county coffers.

"That is a significant investment for what had been an idle plant," he said. "The business came from nowhere and without incentives. They have not asked for a penny."

Work on the Duplin site is under way and is expected to be completed by September. The renovated plant has an estimated life span of 25 years.

Sampson County, on the other hand, offered a tax-incentive package valued at $2.5 million over 10 years to help land its new Fibrowatt facility located just west of Faison. Sampson County also will assist with necessary infrastructure improvements, including water and sewer.

Construction on that plant is expected to start in 2009 and be completed in 2011.

The Duplin County cogeneration plant closed in April 2007 after 21 years of operation. During that time it sold electricity to Progress Energy, while the steam produced as a byproduct was sold to the neighboring Guilford East textile plant.

Originally, the plant was operated by Cogentrix of North Carolina and then by Green Power starting in August 2002.

Coastal Carolina Clean Power is wholly owned by Carlyle/Riverstone Renew-able Energy Infrastructure Fund and managed by Topaz Power Management, LP, an asset management, operation and project development company based in Austin, Texas.

Fibrowatt, LLC is a Pennsylvania-based developer, builder and operator of electrical power plants fueled with poultry litter and other biomass.