Biomass plant misses deadlines –VDT

David Rodock writes on the front page of the Sunday VDT today (the highest profile news source for the region) that Biomass plant misses deadlines: Will the plant move forward?
The Wiregrass Power LLC biomass facility was supposed to have met a number of project goals established by the Economic Development Agreement (EDA) between the company and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority by April 1, 2011. According to Allen Ricketts, Industrial Authority project manager, those goals still have yet to be met.

The specific goals in the agreement were that a “finalized engineering procurement construction contract” would be ready by March 31. By April 1, the company was supposed to have finalized both a power purchase/transmission agreement along with a wastewater/biosolids agreement.

They’ve been slipping deadlines for quite some time. According to page 4 of that EDA (which you can see for yourself on the LAKE web site):
2.5.2 On or before September 1, 2010, Wiregrass will pay to the Authority the sum of $30,000.00 for the right to extend the commencement of construction and installation of the Project from September 1, 2010 to June 1, 2011.
The VDT story quotes VLCIA’s Col. Ricketts as saying:
“We granted them an extension and have set June 1, 2011 as beginning date for construction of the biomass facility.”
So Wiregrass Power, LLC is already seven months past their original start date right now, and is still slipping deadlines.

In particular, they still don’t have anybody to buy their electricity, and they won’t even say who they’re talking to:

“These agreements are made with utilities under a non-disclosure clause, due to the competitive nature of utilities and pricing for energy sources,” said Ricketts.
That’s the same obfuscation we’ve been hearing since April 2010. I’m pretty sure Colquitt Electric isn’t going to buy, because their General Manager says it would cost three times as much as the power CEMC is buying now. Georgia Power said a year ago it wasn’t going to buy. That leaves no local power companies. All the other EMCs in Georgia have the same information CEMC does about biomass power costs. Who in Georgia will buy power from this dud?

Wiregrass Power LLC has said they won’t sell the power to Florida, and I actually believe them now that Adage is pulling out of its north Florida biomass plants because it couldn’t sell the electricity from them. Adage also cancelled a biomass plant in Washington state, and has never built any of its dozen or so proposed biomass plants.

I predict Wiregrass Power LLC will never build any of its one proposed biomass plants, either.

But that’s no reason to stop putting pressure on them or on VLCIA. First, we know VLCIA is noticing that pressure, because Col. Ricketts repeatedly denied it was having any effect:

“With regard to citizen concerns about air quality emissions or other concerns that they have raised, it would not have an impact on these agreements, because the design of the facility is governed by the Air Quality Permit,” said Ricketts.
And again:
“The EPA air permit is pretty set-in-stone. No one has told me that (citizen concern) has caused them a problem with going forward. Right now, the company has not asked for an extension and my expectation is that they will begin construction on June 1.”
We should believe Chairman Sonny Murphy of Sterling Planet is going to waste money building a plant that has no market for its product? We know he’s seen some of the opposition right in front of him, and he saw them all be in favor of his other project, the Wiregrass Solar plant. Add to that the Adage cancellations and Sterling Planet, like Duke Energy, may have had enough of wasting time and money on a failed industry.

Second, there are larger issues in play here. More in the next post.