Kentucky biomass project saves, creates over 350 jobs

By Anna Austin | November 03, 2011

A biomass cogeneration project in Louisville, Ky., has not only saved 340 jobs, but has also created 14 new jobs and will bring $22 million in investment to the city, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced at a press conference regarding the facility.

 Expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2012, Recast Energy’s proposed biomass energy plant is a partnership with latex manufacturer Lubrizol Corp. and specialty elastomer maker Zeon Chemicals, the two customers the plant will supply steam, power and other utilities to.

 In 2009, the utility provider to Zeon Chemicals and Lubrizol notified them that it would be closing, leaving the companies without the required utilities for their operations and forcing them to shut down.  After collaborating with local and state officials, however, the companies were able to obtain a contract from Recast Energy, which will retrofit the current coal-fired power plant to biomass.

 “Our previous utility supplier announced their exit from the Louisville area during the lowest period for our business of the 2008-2009 recession,” said Tom Gettelfinger, president of Zeon Chemicals. “The future of our operation in Louisville was in serious jeopardy.”

 Getterlfinger said the commitment and support of the city and state were instrumental in facilitating the cooperative agreements between Recast Energy, Lubrizol and Zeon to secure the companies’ long term future in the area.

 To facilitate the partnership and reinvestment, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Lubrizol and Zeon for tax incentives up to $1.75 million each through the Kentucky Reinvestment Act. The program is designed to assist companies that need to make significant capital investment in Kentucky facilities in order to remain competitive and retain existing workforces.

 Besides retaining the positions of the 340 workers at the plants, the biomass plant will require 14 new positions, and is expected to create an additional 12 to 20 full-time jobs in the biomass fuel supply chain.