Energy firm turns to private sector

PALMETTO -- A local startup alternative energy company is turning to the private sector to raise millions of dollars to build a proposed biomass plant near Port Manatee.

Florida Biomass Energy LLC, an electric generation facility proposed for Palmetto, missed out on $150 million worth of bonds for construction through the America Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

“We were not able to have everything in place that was necessary” to apply for the bond money, said Rick Jensen, president of Florida Biomass Energy LLC.

The company now is in talks with several equity investment groups to raise money for the plant that will cost an estimated $210 million.

“While were not able to get those (bonds), we’ve seen interest in the marketplace by several equity investment groups,” he said. “We would hope to close on the project financing early in the second quarter.”

Florida Biomass Energy is proposing a 60-megawatt electric generating facility at U.S. 41 and Armstrong Road near Port Manatee.

The plant will use plant material such as tree and bush clippings to generate power at the facility.

Florida Biomass Energy could generate new business for One Stop Landscape.

The Manatee County company recycles yard waste material and manufactures it into organic mulch, flowerbed mix and soil amendments.

“It sounds like it sure could be good for business,” said One Stop Landscape owner John Desrosiers about the proposed biomass facility. ”It sounds like it will be great for Manatee County.”

Once financing is secured for Florida Biomass Energy, Jensen said construction will begin. The build out is expected to take 24-27 months and will create an estimated 150 jobs over the two-year period.

Once the facility opens, Jensen said he estimates it will create 25 full-time jobs with an average annual salary of $50,000-$60,000.