Florida city terminates consideration of biomass plant

By Lisa Gibson
Posted March 18, 2010, at 8:42 a.m. CST

A 55-megawatt biomass power plant that would have called Gretna, Fla., home will not be built, as city officials announced March 16 that they have terminated consideration of the facility.

Officials said March 15 that they would extend consideration of the Adage LLC facility for six months in order to further study the plant's impacts and provide the citizens with reasonable assurances that it will not jeopardize their health and safety. A statement from the city reads, "The City has been very disappointed by a small number of individuals, both from outside our community and within, who have made attempts to distort its efforts to create sustainable economic opportunities for the residents of Gretna and Gadsden County; persons who have never in the past demonstrated any particular interest in the welfare of our residents. The City's commitment and determination to increase our nation's ability to produce energy within its borders remains strong, despite the misconceptions that have been fostered by the unfortunate few."

Adage responded to the city's decision, saying it would suspend development, along with its application for an air permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In light of the permit suspension, the city released another statement saying it considers the matter closed and will take no further action. The plant cannot legally operate without an air permit, so the project is no longer viable, it said. Gretna City Manager Antonio Jefferson said the choice to terminate project consideration was not influenced by citizen opposition.

Tom DePonty, public affairs director for Adage, said the company is still exploring locations in the area around Gadsden County because it offers a great place for such a facility. "We are going to suspend work on the project and continue to pursue options in the region," he said. Vibrant forest resources attracted Adage to the area and the state's recently released Woody Biomass Economic Study confirmed market potential, according to the company. For more information on the study and its findings, see Biomass Magazine's University of Florida study downplays RPS potential.

Adage, a biopower joint venture of Duke Energy and Areva, will continue to develop its Hamilton County, Fla., plant, which has already received full approval on the state and local levels. The company's technology uses wood debris from forest operations.