Late Thursday evening, BioEnergy Development Company, Fishers, announced it has signed a letter of intent with an area utility company for the development and construction of a biomass electric generation plant.
"Our proposed plant would generate approximately 27 megawatts of electricity strictly from wood waste," BioEnergy Development President Robert Swain told The Brazil Times in a telephone interview Friday. "When the International Paper plant closed in October 2007, the wood waste no longer had a place to go."
Swain added the plant would not only provide a "green" source of electricity, but also increase the viability of sawmills.
"A lot of mills have had to shut down recently in the Midwest," he said. "We will use the sawdust, wood chips, bark and other mill residue to create electricity for homes and businesses."
Swain told The Brazil Times the majority of the wood waste for the plant would come within a 100-mile radius of its location, including lumber companies within Clay County.
"Logistics played a big part in choosing Clay County to build the plant," Swain said. "The county is in a good spot for fuel and access to sites with feasible options we can put to good use."
Swain said his company reviewed a Purdue University study which identified "green" energy production as the highest and best use of wood wastes.
"We also like the location we are considering because we would be reusing property which had used a lot of carbon and change it to carbon neutral," Swain told The Brazil Times. "To further lower our carbon footprint, we are also in other discussions on ways to capture carbon dioxide to use in developing other types of energy."
He added the size of proposed facility would be less than 25 acres combined for the parking area, fuel pile (wood waste) and the plant itself.
The plant would be located on a coal strip mine site in Clay County and expected to employ 25-30 full-time workers upon completion, which has county officials excited at the prospect of new business and jobs coming to the are.
"This is a great opportunity for us to use our natural resources and create jobs with good wages for our residents," Commissioners' President Charlie Brown said. "They are real optimistic and they called us about coming to the county, so in a way this fell into our laps. We have been working hard to develop and the county is looking more favorable every day."
For Commissioner Paul Sinders, the plant would be a big plus in all aspects.
"The company is very positive and environmentally sensitive," he said. "This is definitely a win-win for both sides because more local jobs are being created and they are excited to build their facility here.
Swain said the company plans to seek tax abatement, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, or both, which would phase in taxes to provide an increased chance for long-term success.
"We are hoping to complete the contracts and permitting process in time to begin construction in he fall, and finish the plant by the end of 2010."
Clay County Council President Mike McCullough said this is a sign the hard work of the county to bring industry and new jobs to the area is starting to pay off.
"The commissioners, council and West Central Indiana Economic Development District (WCIEDD) have bee working behind the scenes to promote the county," McCullough told The Brazil Times. "Companies are looking at our tax abatement process and seeing we are a business-friendly county. We have a lot of things on the table and we are starting to see results with new businesses coming here."
Because the company has not finalized contracts with the utility or for land options, Swain said the name of the utility or proposed location of the plant can be officially released.
"Right now we just in the meet and greet phase, but Clay County definitely seems like the best area for this plant," Swain told The Brazil Times.
Brown added this may be a sign of things to come.
"Clay County is a great area for industry because of the terrain and our access to Interstate-70, just to name a couple of the upsides," he said. "Not only will jobs be created for this plant, but other jobs, like in the trucking industry, should be created as well."