New Canaan Capital closing on first biomass plant

By Anna Simet | November 20, 2013

New Canaan Capital Management LLC, a private equity-funded limited partnership launched in 2012, is about to close on its first closed-loop biomass power project via the company’s Green Energy Opportunity Fund, according to Jeffrey Weisz, senior managing director.

He said the site of the 60-MW, third-party operated plant is located in central Florida, and the company expects to close it on mid-February. Feedstock will come from 14,000 acres of cottonwood and eucalyptus trees, Weisz said, adding that the site has been designed to accommodate construction of three additional plants as Florida’s power demands increase.

Weisz said he could not currently disclose other partners involved in the project due to confidentiality agreements, but that a 29.5- to 30-year power purchase agreement has been secured.

The Florida project was selected for a number of reasons, according to Weisz. “Michigan has been trying to get us to come there but the problem is getting a handle on the credit of the potential utilities that we’d have to deal with,” he said. “Here, we have an opportunity to deal with a utility that will double our rating.”

Additionally, central Florida is having difficulty with citrus crops, particularly oranges, as blight is currently killing the trees. “So using the land to grow cottonwood or eucalyptus trees, which grow well in that part of the country, could help fill the [agricultural] void in some locations,” Weisz said.

Weisz added that the Green Energy Opportunity Fund would be taking in additional investors for upcoming biomass projects.

Biomass Magazine’s most recent biomass power map indicates Florida currently has 19 biomass power facilities operating or under development. According to Florida-based company EcoGen’s web site, it is involved in development of a 63-MW biomass power plant in central Florida’s Ft. Meade, has secured a PPA with Progress Energy Florida Inc., will grow its own eucalyptus tree fuel, has secured its final air permit from Florida Department of Environmental Protection and is scheduled to be operational in 2014/2015.