ALEXANDRIA, La. —Today, Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Cool Planet Energy Systems President and CEO Howard Janzen at the Port of Alexandria to break ground on the company’s first commercial-scale facility, one of three bio-refineries Cool Planet will develop in Louisiana. The second and third modular biomass-to-gasoline refineries will be built in Natchitoches, La., and at a site to be determined in Louisiana.
Cool Planet is investing $56 million in the Alexandria-based bio-refinery and will create 24 new direct jobs averaging $59,600 plus benefits. When combined with the other two planned Louisiana facilities, the company will invest a total of $168 million and create 72 new direct jobs. Additionally, LED estimates the three facilities will result in 422 new indirect jobs, for a total of 494 new jobs in Central Louisiana. The company estimates 350 construction jobs will be created through the building of the three bio-refineries.
Gov. Jindal said, “With an established energy sector that continues to provide global leadership, Louisiana also is paving the way for innovative energy projects, such as the micro-refineries Cool Planet Energy Systems is developing in our state. We’re proud that our state’s energy industry, outstanding business climate and world-class workforce are attracting the most innovative new projects in the industry. Cool Planet’s bio-refineries will provide tomorrow’s technology today to harness our renewable energy resources and supply advanced fuels to meet our nation’s growing energy demands.”
Cool Planet will harvest yellow-pine wood waste and forest byproducts to make gasoline at its initial commercial-scale facilities in Louisiana. The first facility will be located on 26 acres at the Port of Alexandria, and operations will begin in early 2015.
The bio-refinery at the Port of Alexandria will be capable of producing 10 million gallons of high-octane gasoline for blending at Louisiana refineries. The fuel will be compatible for use in existing vehicles on the road today. Cool Planet investors include BP, Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures (GE, ConocoPhillips and NRG Energy), North Bridge Venture Partners, Shea Ventures and the Constellation division of Exelon.
“Today’s groundbreaking is an important step forward in our plan to aggressively commercialize Cool Planet’s technology,” Janzen said. “We could not have picked a better location to build our first commercial facility and start transforming the nation’s fuel and food supplies.”
Using a proprietary process, Denver-based Cool Planet is also marketing biochar, a co-product of the refining process that can be used as an agricultural soil supplement to boost both water and fertilizer retention and reduce carbon released from crops. This process enables Cool Planet’s overall production cycle to be a carbon-negative process, meaning the project will achieve a net reduction of greenhouse gases.
Construction on the second bio-refinery at the Port of Natchitoches is scheduled to begin in late 2015, with a completion date in 2016. The third site is also scheduled to come online in late 2016 at a Louisiana site to be determined. By building micro-refineries with a capacity roughly 100 times smaller than a large oil refinery, Cool Planet can easily locate near concentrated biomass sources, reducing transportation costs and increasing efficiency. Those savings will enable the company to produce gasoline with a price that’s competitive with oil refineries.
“The Port of Alexandria is honored to join forces with Cool Planet at the forefront of a burgeoning renewable energy expansion in Louisiana,” said Port of Alexandria Chairman Byron Salazar. “The port and its resource partners, together with CLEDA (Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance), and state and local government, have worked diligently to welcome this world-class company to Central Louisiana, with world-class technology, and world-class people. Cool Planet represents a truly transformative project for the port and will generate significant new jobs and economic activity in the community. Our goal is to help make Cool Planet’s first bio-refinery a huge success and a model for potentially hundreds more across the country.”
LED began working with Cool Planet on potential Louisiana locations in September 2012. To secure the project, Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a $750,000 Economic Development Award Program grant to offset infrastructure costs, along with the services of LED FastStart® – the nation’s No. 1-ranked state workforce training program. Cool Planet also is expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs. The City of Alexandria will provide gas, water, sewer and electrical upgrades, along with road improvements at the Port of Alexandria site.
“The City of Alexandria is happy to welcome Cool Planet to Central Louisiana,” said Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy. “This development will add jobs to our area as well as help attract new business that will in turn create additional new jobs. Alexandria is serious about creating a highly desirable environment for business development. This is precisely the type of smart technology we want to support – capitalizing on our principal resource of timber and seeing the Alexandria region continue to attract and house biofuel companies. In addition to timber and healthcare, this niche is attractive and even in its infancy very notable as a future capacity here at home – not only an important accomplishment for the industry, but a critical step toward a viable alternative energy future for the nation.”
“With a turning of the shovel at the Port of Alexandria, Cool Planet begins to change the nature of the energy business,” said President and CEO Jim Clinton of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “Central Louisiana can begin to use terms like ‘green fuels and ‘carbon capture’ to describe things that happen in this region but reverberate globally. Today's movement of a small amount of earth represents quality jobs, greater wealth, economic diversification and a more technology-intensive business mix for our region. We look forward to the project's completion and its replication throughout Louisiana.”
About Cool Planet
Headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colo., outside Denver, and with research facilities in Camarillo, Calif., Cool Planet is commercializing a technology to create green fuels and biochar in a way that can change the world for good. The company’s green fuels are chemically identical to fossil fuels, and Cool Planet’s “Cool Terra™” biochar product enables more healthy plant growth, with less fertilizer and water usage, for increased crop productivity. The process is capable of being carbon-negative, reversing the consequences of CO2 build-up from fossil fuels. Cool Planet’s technology has a broad portfolio of pending and granted patents. Global investors include BP, Google Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures (GE, ConocoPhillips, NRG Energy), and the Constellation division of Exelon. For more information, visit coolplanet.com.