EDA approves financing

Published 11:01 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Economic Development Authority gave its blessing Wednesday to low-interest bond financing for an energy company that plans work in Suffolk.

GPC Green Energy, LLC, became the first company to apply for the financing under the newly formed recovery zone in Suffolk. The recovery zone was established with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to allow additional financing options for construction or expansion projects in places hit by the economic recession.

“This was a no-brainer,” said Skip Smith with GPC Green Energy. “This is a neat, neat project.”

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The company will build a 10,000-square-foot facility at the BASF chemical company site on Wilroy Road, which will convert carbon dioxide generated by rotting trash at the Suffolk landfill into electricity. That electricity then will power operations at the BASF site, as well as about 4,000 homes in the area.

Through the recovery zone, the EDA becomes the conduit for the bond financing. Roughly $20 million will be financed, including about $15 million for machinery and equipment and $2.5 million for construction.

According to Smith, the facility is currently the largest “green” project east of the Mississippi. It will continue operations as long as the landfill generates enough gas to continue producing electricity, Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts said in the meeting.

The project will create approximately nine new jobs, Smith added, in addition to taking about 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air. The construction of the project should curtail the landfill odor problem local residents have been dealing with for almost a year, Smith said.

“That is the landfill gas we want to use,” he said, referring to the odor. “We will be using 100 percent of all gas being generated.”

Though the financing does not add any debt or liability to the EDA or the city, some authority members still were concerned about how much tax revenue the new facility would bring in.

“Our main return on investment … will be coming from the machinery and tools [taxes],” Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said.

The financing now will be considered by City Council at a future meeting. If council approves the move, it will return to the EDA for final approval.