Biomass plant approved for Macon-Bibb County

How to get a biomass plant approved in Georgia: tack it onto an existing business. Remember to get an industrial authority to use a public bond issue to expand the private business.

Carla Caldwell wrote in the Atlanta Business Chronicle 7 June 2011, Graphic Packaging gets $140M bond deal

A deal OK’d by the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority provides revenue bonds for a $140 million expansion of Marietta, Ga.-based Graphic Packaging International’s Macon, Ga. mill. Improvements will include the addition of a biomass boiler and a 40-megawatt turbine generator geared to reduce emergency cost and improve profitability, reports Macon Telegraph website

The authority approved the deal on Monday for the provider of packaging for food, beverage and consumer products. The biomass system, which is scheduled for operation by mid-2013, is expected to generate power from about 400,000 tons of logging materials, mostly the tops of trees, the Macon newspaper reports. Graphic Packaging’s (NYSE: GPK) Macon mill makes an estimated 1,600 tons of paperboard daily.

Maybe we should put some parameters on the types of industry we want around here to avoid this happening with the bonds the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (and the Lowndes County Commission) floats.

This rationalization is precious:

The new project will reduce the Macon mill’s fossil fuel-based greenhouse gas emissions by about 200,000 tons per year — the emissions equivalent of about 35,000 passenger cars, according to
Yeah, by shifting the CO2 emissions to the biomass plant, not reducing them.

Nonetheless, Graphic Packaging’s president and CEO, David Scheible, said back in January:

“This biomass project will not only make use of untapped renewable resources, but it will also add value to the Macon, Ga., community as a whole.”
This other quote from the same Biomass Magazine article is more interesting:
“The objectives of the biomass project are to further the company’s sustainability strategy, reduce energy costs and to improve the profitability of the Macon mill in advance of expected increases in electricity costs,”
Well of course, profitability of the Macon mill is the real goal. But why do they expect increases in electricity costs? Which existing source of electricity do they think will be shut down?

Meanwhile, in Lowndes County, remember, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.