Tibbar Energy USVI biogas project construction to begin Q1 2015

By Anna Simet | October 27, 2014

Despite financing hurdles, Tibbar Energy USVI is moving toward construction of its 7 MW biogas plant at the end of Q1 2015, according to CEO Tania Tomyn.

The project, which will utilize Viaspace Inc.-licensed Giant King Grass, fats, oils, greases and food waste as feedstock to produce 7 MW of power, has achieved the majority of its permits, Tomyn said. “We have expanded our biogas energy facility site by two more acres to total 17 acres and have received final approval for the ground lease.”

Tibbar has been working with the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority to begin programs around recycling fats, oils and greases from both St. Thomas and St. Croix, which is progressing well, according to Tomyn. “Finalizing insurance policies, design, and operating partners that will run the facility have taken up much of our time,” she said. “The operating company that will run our biogas energy facility is strong and very experienced, and we look forward to announcing that early next year.”

Farming operations are also moving forward, with four planters ordered from Ferrari Agriculture in Italy. “With irrigation engineering to be completed by the end of October, Tibbar’s farming project will be one of the most efficient reuse projects in North America,” Tomyn said. “Our water source is coming from effluent that is currently being discharged in the coral reef—an issue we are resolving.  This is a true win-win for VI Waste Management and Tibbar.”

She added that construction will come at an important time for St. Croix, which has an economy that is suffering, and that Tibbar expects to create about 150 jobs by end of first quarter 2015. Tibbar is working with Layne Heavy Civil Inc. based in Mission Woods, Kansas, one of North America's largest waste water treatment engineering, construction and procurement contractors. Layne has a strategic partnership with entec biogas gmbh of Austria, which has built over 100 biogas plants worldwide.

Though the project received preapproval from the U.S. Virgin Islands Government Employee's Pension Fund (GERS) for a $15 million dollar loan, the term sheet was rejected in a September vote. “Although this is very disenchanting, we move forward on a path without the loan and will close as scheduled,” Tomyn said.

The full electrical output of the facility is under contract to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority through a 25-year power purchase agreement.