Project to build 36 MMgy ethanol plant in Florida moves forward

By Holly Jessen | October 07, 2011

Within a week, Highlands EnviroFuels LLC announced receiving its air permit as well as the completion of an economic impact study.

On Sept. 28, the company said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued its air permit, a significant milestone in building the plant. Highlands EnviroFuels aims to break ground on a 36 MMgy facility, which will initially have a nameplate capacity of 30 MMgy, said company principal and manager Bradley Krohn. The facility, which will be located near Lake Placid, Fla., will produce advanced biofuels from sugarcane and sweet sorghum. “Let’s keep our fuel dollars within our country, and our state, versus sending them overseas to import oil from countries that are not friendly to the U.S.,” Krohn said.  “This is really about energy independence and reducing our reliance on imported petroleum.  There is no reason why we cannot emulate the Brazilian model on ethanol production and usage.”

The feedstock for the ethanol plant will be sourced from local growers, such as George Woerner, a major grower investor among nine grower investors in the project. Building and operating this plant will provide opportunities for new revenue streams for growers and land owners. “This plant will help keep farms in operation and farmers in business, as opposed to selling farms for commercial and residential development and other government-acquired land uses,” he said.

In addition to producing advanced biofuels, the facility will produce up to 30 megawatts of renewable power from sugarcane and sorghum stalk fiber and leaves, known as “bagasse.” The facility will use very little well water, Krohn said. In fact, 84 percent of the total process water will come from the plant’s feedstocks, with recycling of all process water effluent streams.

The results of the economic impact study, which were announced Oct. 4, will generate 60 full-time, high paying permanent jobs. John M. Urbanchuk of Cardno Entrix, a global environmental and natural resources management consulting firm, who completed the study, also estimated that nearly 700 indirect and induced jobs will be created in all sectors of the county. Finally, the plant will provide Highlands County $51 million of gross domestic product and nearly $4 million in household income per year. During the construction phase, $47 million in gross domestic product will be provided, $439 million in household income and hundreds of jobs will be supported. “The Highlands EnviroFuels ethanol plant is an excellent example of the development of the second generation Advanced Biofuel feedstocks that are needed to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate of 36 billion gallons by 2022,” Urbanchuk said. “Moreover, this facility will promote the diversification of agriculture and provide a significant stimulus for Florida farmers.”