Renewable Fuels Company Announces Plans - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/09/07 - Nacogdoches

Renewable Fuels Company Announces Plans

by Donna McCollum

Saturday was declared 'Green Day' by musicians around the world who were creating awareness about "bio-renewable energy." They celebrated with loud concerts. For the last five years a Nacogdoches County chemist has been going green in a much different way. "Very quietly and under the radar." That's how Michael Bishop of Douglass describes his development of American Biorefining and Energy, Incorporated.

On Monday he held a conference before legislators, state agencies and interested parties.  State Representative Wayne Christian, Senator Robert Nichols, several representatives of biomass research from Austin, and forest industry reps were present.   " Right here. This is homegrown homemade Texas right here. Nacogdoches county, " said Bishop as he held up a jar of fuel made from sunflowers that he grew in his backyard.   At times Bishop sounded like an infomercial, but he wants to illustrate to state senators and government agencies what can be made from a cane like plants or wood chips.  

" We never call it forest waste. It's forest residue. It's very valuable commodity and you've got large reserve of it in this eastern part of Texas,"  said Michael Birch, American Biorefining & Energy Vice President Administration and Marketing.   He's an Englishman  wanting to invest in the latest wave to hit the United States, but something that's been around for decades in European countries. Myles Mackay travels the states buying up biomass material to ship overseas. He's  interested too.   " The apparent reluctance of people to accept biodiesel and bioethonol just seems crazy to me coming from a European background where it's almost accepted as the norm, " said Mackay of Hughes Group Ltd (United Kingdom).

But that's changing too. American Biorefining is in discussion with the Lower Colorado River Authority for the sale of 40 megawatts of power. A spokesman from the authority says there's no signed agreement.

The power will be generated from two Texas sites. One in San Saba and the other in Nacogdoches. Locations in six other counties have ties with American Biorefining. Bishop said, "Our projects are going to create over 3,000 jobs here in Texas and stimulate the economy by a quarter of a million dollars or better. "

Bishop wants to put the American farmer back to work by having them grow plants, like Arundo that make energy. This cane like plant can be found growing wild in places, including on West Austin street. It's considered a noxious weed, but American Biorefining obtained a special permit in to grow it.   Other renewable plants Bishop plans are pine chips from East Texas, but in San Saba 60,000 acres of mesquite will be used as fuel for a biomass plant, an ethanol plant and a pelletizing mill that will be constructed on city property. Bishop has vowed not to use any fossil fuel, unlike other proposed biomass plants in the region. Another plant is scheduled to be built at an undisclosed location in Nacogdoches County.

According to an American Biorefining release, to generate cash flow during the construction, a contract with World Wide Wood and Coal was reached and is in effect, for the export of 480,000 tons of fuel chips and 480, 000 tons of clean chips. A private dock facility in Port Arthur will be used to export the chips. The firm has pending power purchase agreements with industrial sites and municipalities. Investors want to have the plants built in 9-12 months.

As Bishop was making his announcement at SFA's Student Center,  Governor Rick Perry was announcing in Houston the state's Bioenergy Strategy.   The portfolio plan began with a 5-million dollar grant to Texas A & M. Bishop says his project is not utilizing any federal grants, but the industry would like to see legislation that will make it easier for biomass companies to get established. " It's been a long haul. If there was less government red tape, more good come from biomass research projects."   

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