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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

Bio-gas/organic fertilizer plant plans revealed
Houston County Courier

By Lynda Jones
Managing Editor

The Crockett Industrial Park has more than a sign and a paved road in its future, and the city anticipates direct economic benefits from its first resident, in return for guaranteeing the 30 percent of bonds that will be issued for the project. Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation Executive Director Thom Lambert introduced Gregg Lee of the Texas BioMethane Energy Project to the Crockett City Council Monday night, March 21. Literature distributed at the council meeting by Lee states the Crockett Bio-Gas/Organic Fertilizer Plant #1 “is the first proto-type renewable electric energy production plant that will be deployed to prove this renewable energy strategy in America. “It will be used to demonstrate the concept’s viability and grow the interest for the build of additional plants in America.” The process has been used in Germany for 15 years. “The controlled bio-digestion of sorghum forage seed crops results in the creation of biomethane gas. The biomethane gas is then burned in an internal combustion engine that generates renewable electricity. The spent sorghum solids are converted to organic fertilizer. This process has matured to the stage where, by the year 2015, Germany is projected to generate 25 percent of its total electric energy from biomethane,” Lee’s literature states. The first stage of the Crockett plant will focus on the production of organic fertilizer. Forage sorghum, chicken litter and cereal grains will be used for making the fertilizer. According to Lambert, the plant will be emission and odor free. The production of liquid carbon dioxide that will be marketed into the industrial gas market, will be addressed later, according to the company. The plant is expected to have the capacity to generate 500 kilowatts of complete green electricity for the area. Lee said the project has teamed with a sorghum seed company and will lease land from a Crockett farmer, Jim Gaylord. The plant size area at the Crockett Industrial Park will encompass 7.5 acres, and 1,200 acres outside the park will be required for crop production. Lambert told the council that the project is looking at Angelina College to train its operators. He also said people from other states will be traveling here to visit the plant so additional plants can be built in other parts of the country. According to the company’s literature, there will be five full-time employees required to sustain regular daily operations once the plant is built. The company hopes to replicate the plant with as many as 40 similar production facilities across 16 Texas counties. Lee stated 40 percent of the project is paid by grants and tax incentives. Oppenheimer of New York will handle the long-term debt, according to Lee. Following the presentation, the city council approved a resolution authorizing the Crockett Bio-gas/Organic Fertilizer Plant to design, build, finance, operate and own a bio-gas electric generation facility at a purchase price not to exceed $12,500,000, provided that the issuance of bonds in support of the project do not exceed $7,500,000. The resolution further states the bonds must be supported by a 70 percent USDA guarantee. Also, a Debt Service Reserve Fund shall be used to make principal and interest payments on the bonds in case a shortfall ever occurs. “In the event there is a draw on the Debt Service Reserve Fund, it shall be replenished through a mutually acceptable guarantee agreement negotiated between the Borrower and the City. In the event of a draw on the Debt Service Reserve Fund, the City will deposit in the Debt Service Reserve Fund an amount equal to the exact amount drawn from the Debt Service Reserve Fund within 60 days, subject to an annual cap equal to the initial size of the Debt Service Reserve Fund,” the resolution states. In return for making this guarantee, the City of Crockett will be entitled to 35 percent of the annual cash distributions made by the plant as long as the guarantee remains in place


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