SunMark moves forward with biomass power plant

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Oct. 17, 2008 at 10:53 a.m. CST

The Henderson Economic Development Corp. in Henderson, Texas, has approved a $130 million bond issue to help SunMark Energy LLC of Dallas finance the construction of a $160 million, 60-megawatt woody biomass-fed gasification power plant on more than 100 acres of land in Rusk County.

According to Mark Engeberg, president and managing member of SunMark Energy, if all goes as planned, construction of the plant will begin in 2009 and the facility should be operational in late 2011 or early 2012. The plant is expected to employ as many as 60 full-time employees.

SunMark Energy is negotiating a power sales agreement with a market participant in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid, Engeberg said. The company will also negotiate with the city of Henderson to purchase 1.5 million gallons of wastewater daily for the plant. Approximately 400,000 tons waste wood feedstock per year will be needed for the facility, he said.

The Henderson facility marks a milestone for SunMark Energy and Engeberg. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Engeberg resolved to use his resources to bring more renewable energy projects to the United States. "I quickly saw what was going on and recognized that we need to do something about our dependence on foreign oil," he said. "At the time, Wall Street wasn't ready to embrace the renewable sector because the technology and demand for renewable energy wasn't there. But since then, you can't watch TV without some advertisement about the need for renewable energy. The technology has vastly improved and the demand and awareness has finally come."

SunMark Energy is also working on other renewable energy projects, including a plasma gasification project and an anaerobic digestion project, Engeberg said. The company will disclose details about those projects sometime in the future, he added.