By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – With initial site preparation complete, BlueFire Renewables is closing in on financing to begin construction of its $300 million plant here.
“We’re really excited,” said Arnold Klann, the CEO of the Irvine, Calif.-based maker of renewable fuels. “Everybody working on it has done a great job.”
Century Construction of Tupelo was responsible for clearing the site, leveling it and putting drainage and erosion-control measures in place.
With that work complete, Klann said the company is awaiting word on additional financing with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture.
BlueFire already has received $88 million in grants to help fund the plant. The money was part of a $564 million federal investment in 19 biorefinery projects in 15 states.
“We’re confident, simply put,” Klann said of obtaining the additional funding.
About $270 million more is needed, mostly through equity financing, with the rest through debt.
Once financing is closed this fall, Klann said construction will begin.
“We feel pretty confident we’ll be able to start vertical construction in late September, early October,” he said.
The company received its final air, wastewater and storm water permits from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in November.
Once construction begins, it could take 18 months to complete. At peak construction, some 600 workers will be on site. The first phase of construction created 52 jobs.
Once operational, the plant – which will make ethanol from green and wood wastes abundantly available from timber companies and furniture manufacturers in the region – will employ 75 to 80 workers.
The plant will be able to produce 19 million gallons of ethanol a year.
Last September, BlueFire reached a 15-year deal with Tenaska BioFuels in which Tenaska would buy and market all of BlueFire’s production.