BlueFire moves proposed plant to Mississippi

By Erin Voegele | October 06, 2009
Report posted Oct. 20, 2009, at 1:18 p.m. CST

Irvine, Calif.-based BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc. recently announced the strategic relocation of its second planned biorefinery to Fulton, Miss. While the facility was originally planned for California, BlueFire President and CEO Arnold Klann said delays in the licensing and permitting process and a challenging business climate within California convinced his company to petition the U.S. DOE for a site change.

BlueFire was awarded a $40 million DOE grant to support development of its second facility in 2007. According to Klann, DOE's approval of the site change should help expedite development of the project.

Klann said BlueFire originally anticipated a timeframe of approximately 6 months to license and permit its first facility, which is under development in Lancaster, Calif. Instead, the licensing and permitting process was ongoing for nearly two years. In addition, Klann said the sales tax increase implemented in California this year impacted plans for both facilities, adding more than $1 million in construction costs to the Lancaster facility.

"There is a lot of favorable push from the DOE to [develop these programs]…, from California's standpoint, they were just obstructionists all the way through," Klann said. While developing its first two facilities, BlueFire was also scouting locations for additional biorefineries. According to Klann, this included the Lancaster location.

"I can't say enough about the business development people in that state," Klann said. "There is such a ‘can do' attitude in Mississippi. The licensing and permitting people are not acting as roadblocks…they are working with us."

BlueFire's proposed facility in Lancaster will utilize locally available waste wood feedstock and have a production capacity of more than 18 MMgy. According to Klann, licensing and permitting for the facility is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2010. Construction will begin as soon as financing is secured, which Klann said could be as soon as June 2010.

Construction is also ready to begin at BlueFire's proposed 3.9 MMgy facility in Lancaster, which will utilize municipal solid waste feedstock. "Lancaster is shovel-ready," Klann said. "It's just the matter of getting the funding put together for it … and all the funding right now is really dependent on the loan guarantee program that the DOE has in place."