Enerkem finalizes funding for plant

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – Pending environmental permits by the state, Enerkem Corp. is poised to begin building its $100 million ethanol plant near the Three Rivers Solid Waste Management Authority landfill.
On Thursday, Montreal-based parent company Enerkem Inc. said its U.S. division had received a loan guarantee of $80 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In December 2009, it received an award of up to $50 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Marie-Helene Labrie, the company’s vice president of government affairs and communications, said the loan was the final piece of funding to kick-start the project in Pontotoc, where construction is expected to begin this summer.
“It will take about 18 months and we expect to finish construction at the end of 2010, and we will begin producing in 2013,” she said.
Enerkem’s biorefinery operation in Mississippi will initially produce about 10 million gallons of ethanol annually from sorted municipal solid waste.
More than 70 permanent jobs will be created, the company said.
“The big picture is that this project offers rural Mississippi opportunities to create renewable energy jobs, diversifies energy production and it reduces the amount of waste,” she said.
Enerkem President and CEO Vincent Chornet said in a release that the financing “demonstrates the confidence in Enerkem as a company equipped to drive the waste-to-biofuels movement across North America and beyond.”
The company cleared federal environmental hurdles last fall, when it received a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” or FONSI, from the DOE, allowing Enerkem to move ahead with the project without additional federal environmental assessments.
Labrie said paperwork has been filed with the state and expects approval any day.
In August, Enerkem began construction of a similar plant in Edmonton, Alberta.
The Pontotoc plant will be the company’s first in the U.S.
“We hope to develop other projects in the U.S. and perhaps Mississippi,” Labrie said.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.