City commission approves Port St. Joe biomass power plant

By Lisa Gibson | October 06, 2011

The Port St. Joe, Fla., City Commission unanimously approved Rentech Inc.’s Northwest Florida Renewable Energy Center at its meeting Oct. 4, after a 3½-hour comment period that included 27 speakers.

The 55-megawatt biomass power plant will run on 930 tons of woody biomass per day and most of the power output has been contracted for sale to Progress Energy Florida under a long-term power purchase agreement.

About 200 people showed up for the public comment period that preceded the commission’s unanimous vote, according to Julie Dawoodjee, vice president of investor relations and communications for Rentech. A small protest was held during the meeting, she added, including about 20 people. “Only about half of them were local and county residents,” she said.

Rentech acquired the $225 million project from developer Biomass Energy Holdings earlier this year. The design had already included use of Rentech-SilvaGas gasifier, so Dawoodjee said Rentech’s ownership was a natural fit.

Following the acquisition, Rentech’s plans for its Rialto Project in Rialto, Calif., have been narrowed from production of power and renewable diesel or jet fuel to just jet fuel. Rentech is in discussions with several airlines for the purchase of the fuel.