Florida ethanol plant to install CHP system; sell output to local electric co-op

By Erin Voegele | July 08, 2009
Report posted July 30, 2009 at 3:15 p.m. CST

Seminole Electric Cooperative, a Florida-based nonprofit wholesale power provider, recently signed a contract with Southeast Renewable Fuels LLC, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based ethanol producer, to purchase electricity generated by a combined heat and power (CHP) system that will be installed at Southeast Renewable Fuels' proposed ethanol plant.

According to Donald Markley, Southeast Renewable Fuels executive president and chief operating officer, his company intends to develop at least three sweet sorghum ethanol plants in Florida. The first facility will be located in Hendry County, which is in the south-central region of the state.

Construction of the initial facility is expected to begin late this fall, with the plant reaching full production in early 2012. The facility will process approximately 1.2 million tons of sweet sorghum biomass annually and produce 20 MMgy of ethanol and 25 megawatts of electricity.

While the agreement signed with Seminole applies only to electricity produced at Southeast Renewable Fuels' initial plant, Markley said that there is potential to sign additional agreements as more ethanol facilities are developed. "We think Seminole Electric is an outstanding partner to work with and we would certainly entertain signing additional agreements with them," he said.

The agreement will allow Seminole to add 25 MW of biomass energy to its resource portfolio. Under the contract, Seminole will have the option of purchasing the facility's electrical output through Nov. 30, 2036.

According to Tim Woodbury, Seminole's chief executive, the contract reflects the cooperative's continued commitment to renewable resources and environmental stewardship. "Biomass is clean, efficient, reliable and renewable, and it's price competitive with traditional energy sources, an important factor in holding down the retail cost of electricity," he said.