Enerkem gets federal approval for MSW plant

By Kris Bevill | October 14, 2010
Posted Nov. 3, 2010

The U.S. DOE has given Enerkem Inc. the green light to move ahead with its proposed 20 MMgy cellulosic facility in Pontotoc, Miss. The agency recently completed an environmental assessment for the project, which included public consultation with members of local, state and federal agencies, and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact, allowing the project to proceed with no further federal environmental assessments.

Enerkem expects to begin construction of the facility in the first half of 2011. The plant will be completed in two phases, the first of which will result in the production of 10 MMgy of municipal solid waste (MSW)-based ethanol. A second module will eventually be added to the facility, increasing the plant's capacity to 20 MMgy, according to Enerkem. The company needs to obtain environmental permits from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality before engineering, procurement and construction activities may begin. Marie-Helene Labrie, Enerkem's vice president of communications and government affairs, said permit applications have been filed with the state and the company expects to receive approval for those permits by early next year.

The plant will be co-located with a landfill operated by Three Rivers Solid Waste Management Authority. Three Rivers services eight counties in northern Mississippi and has agreed to provide Enerkem with the 100,000 dry metric tons of MSW required annually to produce 10 MMgy. According to Labrie, conversations with potential offtakers for Enerkem's ethanol are ongoing.

The U.S. DOE is providing half of the cost for Enerkem's $100 million project as part of its Integrated Biorefinery Operations Program.